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Hepatitis A from pomegranate seeds sickens 162 people in 10 states

September 25, 2013

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According to the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Hepatitis A outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend has affected 162 people in 10 states. Of these, 71 people were hospitalized, data shows.

The states in which Hepatitis A cases were confirmed to have stemmed from Townsend Farms are Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin. However, there has been only one case in New Jersey and this is a secondary case, meaning that the disease was contracted via household contact from a confirmed case in Colorado, rather than from directly consuming the product.

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An investigation has revealed that the source of the contamination -- pomegranate seeds included in the mix -- were imported from Turkey by Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading. According to the Food and Drug Administration, future imports of pomegranate seeds by the same company will be blocked until further notice.

Although Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend was sold in Costco Wholesale stores and Harris Teeter stores, all of the Hepatitis A cases have been linked with Costco. The CDC determined that the onset of the disease ranged between March 31 and July 25 and the patients affected are between the ages of one and 84. The products were recalled on June 3 and an expanded recall was launched on June 28, Food Safety News reported.