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Town Square

Santa Clara County hepatitis case linked to berries from Costco

Original post made on Jun 4, 2013

A 22-year-old Santa Clara County woman is the first confirmed case of Hepatitis A linked to a multiple-state outbreak linked to frozen berries sold at Costco stores, officials from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department announced today.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 2:47 PM

Comments

Posted by ?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

It's been 3-4 weeks since I ate them (got the call from Costco) -- will the vaccine still protect?

Interestingly, I only ate one bowl because there were several berries that tasted moldy, and was going to return the rest anyway. So my family never ate them. Saved by moldy fruit...


Posted by Santa Clara County Public Health Department, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The vaccine is only effective during the two weeks after consuming the berries, but please contact your health provider to discuss what symptoms to look for. Also, getting a vaccine will protect you for any future exposures.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Not sure why anyone would want to buy frozen berries, we have fresh berries available nearly year round.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

> Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 37 minutes ago
> Not sure why anyone would want to buy frozen berries, we have fresh berries available nearly year round.

Is that supposed to be a helpful comment? Really, are you baffled at that or have you just never thought of comparing on the basis of price?

--

This is really awful, I thought Hepatitus was a blood or bodily fluids born virus ... can Santa Clara County Public Health Department can you explain the mechanism behind berries getting infected with hepatitis? Would someone need to have an open sore in their mouth or digestive tract?

Is this a new problem or has this happened before and to what extent?


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

>can you explain the mechanism behind berries getting infected with hepatitis?

I contracted Hepatitis A as a kid. It was not all that unusual. It comes from feces-contaminated food. I was part of various field harvest crews, and the sanitary conditions were not up to modern conditions. I would question where the Costco berries came from, and what the harvest conditions were.


Posted by Mark, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

@CrescentParkAnon

- Hepatitis A is spread fecal-orally
- Hepatitis B is spread via blood or body fluids
- Hepatitis C is spread mainly by blood


Posted by foodie, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Where is Townsend Farms located? I assume not in China. Were all the berries from one farm or is this a huge corporation with farms in many different areas?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Thank you Craig and Mark.

> I would question where the Costco berries came from, and what the harvest conditions were.

Yes, that was my thought as well ... it would be nice to know -

> Consumers are being warned not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries sold through Costco stores, as they may be linked to the hepatitis infections.

- if and what the story may be with Townsend Farms "Organic".

There seems to be a lot of contaminated "everything" these days, and less regulators to police conditions and check imports. It just seems on every score the US is sinking lower and lower. Japan would never allow imports like this into their country. We just seem to figure if only a few get sick or die if there is money to be made, ho-hum.

Where did we ever get asked to vote on whether we want things to run this way?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Townsend Farms, from the website www.townsendfarms dot com

> Our Family History
>
>In 1842, our ancestor James Madison Townsend arrived from his long journey up from South Carolina and across the Oregon Trail.
>
>When he first saw the rich, fertile soil of the Willamette Valley, he knew he'd found the ideal region to produce the best crops for years to come. In the early 1900s, James' grandson, John "Jack" W. Townsend moved his family to the Farm's current location nestled in the Columbia Gorge.

TOWNSEND FARMS, INC. 23400 NE TOWNSEND WAY FAIRVIEW, OR 97024 (503) 666-1780 OFFICE

Looks like a longstanding American operation .... maybe it was take over by Bain Capital and downsized? ;-)


Posted by Food, Inc, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm

The berries came from many different countries. Sadly, this is typical in the food business these days. I've seen meat in Trader Joe's that lists 2-3 possible countries of origin.

Link to the Oregonian, which is where Townsend is located:
Web Link


Quote:
State and federal officials suspect the outbreak was caused by pomegranate seeds from Turkey, not the berries in the mix. The strain involved in the outbreak is relatively common in North Africa and the Middle East, but it is almost unheard of in North and South America.

Food and Drug Administration officials are investigating Townsend Farms' processing plant in Fairview, where the pomegranate seeds were mixed with berries and the blend was manufactured. Bill Gaar, the company's attorney, said the FDA started the testing process on Monday by collecting samples.

Gaar said there was no indication that the blend was contaminated by pickers, food handlers or during processing. Besides the pomegranate seeds from Turkey, the blend contained cherries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries from Oregon, Washington, Argentina and Chile.


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

Whole Foods, Costco Organic, Safeway O -- produce, fresh or frozen, from "Big Organic" and not your local friendly small farm. Earthbound Farms started small and is now a very large operation--and didn't they also have an issue with contaminated lettuce mix a few years ago?

Omnivores' Dilemma by Michael Pollan gives good insight into this.

Still, Big Organic is better than industrial fertilized and pesticided farming.


Posted by frozen berry eater, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 5, 2013 at 11:31 am

For the person who asked "why frozen berries" - I eat them in a shake every morning. Using frozen saves time and also provides a better texture to the shake. It's fast and easy.

Here is the safety notice with the picture of the bag from the costco site:
Web Link


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Curmodgeon ... and the editor ...

> and didn't they also have an issue with contaminated lettuce mix a few years ago?

Uh, I'm not a big corporate defender, but let's play fair, is it not slander to accuse without proof and without qualification? You could phrase this a lot better, or include some specifics.


Posted by Frozen because.., a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Fresh fruit and vegetables are harvested before ripening, then ripen on the way from farm to market.....less nutrition that way.

Fruit and edge tables intended for freezing are allowed to ripen naturally, are picked at the peak of ripeness, and contain more nutrition. They can also be stored far longer than fresh. The only sacrifice is texture when thawed. But for smoothies, cooking,,etc, the nutrition is superior.

Just ask Dr Oz


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

In Shangri-La we'll all have every kind of fresh berries ripened perfectly any time we think of it, but until we evolve to that point there are many reasons to use frozen fruit, price, availability, ripeness, convenience, shelf/freezer life. Anyone who thought about it at all could see this immediately ... on other hand, if here is a chance of getting a serious communicable disease greater than with fresh berries it might be worth the extra price. Still, a lot of fresh berries are far from perfect, from too ripe to not ripe, to never going to ripen to putrid - like those bags of apples and oranges with nice camouflage primary colors that make it look like the fruit inside is all ripe and perfect ... then you get it open and half the fruit is rotten. What a scam that is ... and why does it continue to go on?