The growing number of people who have have been reported sickened by hepatitis A after consuming an organic berry mix is disturbing on so many levels. The offending berry mix is ‘Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend’ and is sold at Costco. The most disturbing for me is that we actually have a bag of these exact same berries in our freezer. On our last trip to Costco we happened to pick up a bag for the first time, and thankfully, we never opened it.

Hepatitis A is often passed when food workers don’t properly wash their hands (it is passed the fecal-oral route), or when you eat contaminated food or water. Produce can be infected even before harvest. Although some people are asymptomatic, symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored feces, joint pain, and jaundice. Because it can take six weeks for symptoms to appear, those who are infected can unknowingly pass it on to others before they realize they are infected. Thankfully, it is rare to have complications leading to death from hepatitis A.

I was talking to another young mother (who also shops at Costco) and her frustrations regarding the situation. She told me that it was so frustrating because when you are on a limited budget, it can be really hard to buy all of the nourishing foods you’d like to locally, so you buy from places like Costco to fill in the gaps. Yet, now she doesn’t know what choices to make when even an organic item like this can be contaminated.

All fingers are currently pointing at the pomegranate seeds found in the mix, which came from Turkey. Considering that hepatitis A is much more common in other countries, buying US grown produce only could help lower chances of getting it through produce.

Meanwhile, the CDC gives their recommendations as to what to do if you bought this product here. And you can get a refund, if you have purchased this item, by returning it to Costco. 

87 cases of hepatitis A now linked to organic berries sold at Costco
Even organic produce can be contaminated with hepatitis A, especially in other countries where the water is at risk of being contaminated.