At Least 15 Lawsuits Filed Against Townsend Farms

Two new lawsuits have been filed against Townsend Farms, Inc. of Fairview, Oregon in connection with a Hepatitis A outbreak, bringing the total number of lawsuits to 15. Individual lawsuits have been filed on behalf of one Washington resident, three California residents, and now, two Arizona residents who had fallen ill with Hepatitis A after eating Townsend Farms’ Organic Antioxidant Blend berry and pomegranate mix. In addition, attorneys have also filed nine class action lawsuits on behalf of all consumers who have had to be tested for the disease or have received the vaccination to prevent the disease after eating the berries.

The newest lawsuits filed in Arizona include a woman, Claudine Rad from Maricopa County and an unidentified man.

Rad claims to have eaten the Townsend Farms organic berry mix several times in April and May. She initially fell ill with flu-like symptoms, fatigue and nausea and later became jaundiced. Rad missed three weeks of work and has not returned to her regular work schedule since then. While Rad only sought medical attention after learning about the product recall, she tested positive for Hepatitis A on June 5, 2013.

The man claims that he ate the Townsend Farms product in April and fell ill on May 5th. Later he tested positive for Hepatitis A and was hospitalized from May 15th through May 18th. He spent two of those nights in the intensive care unit and is still receiving treatment for Hepatitis A.

Representatives for Rad and the man believe Townsend Farms had some warning that there may have been a problem with its suppliers’ food safety practices.

As of June 18, the Center for Disease Control is investigating Hepatitis A illnesses in 118 people in eight states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Of the 118 individuals interviewed, 80% reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend berry and pomegranate mix bought at Costco. 47 of the 118 people have been hospitalized.

On June 3, Townsend Farms voluntarily recalled the berry mix. Costco called all customers who bought the berry mix.

Early laboratory studies of the virus suggest that the strain infecting the berries is one rarely found in the Americas. It is known to circulate through North Africa and the Middle East. Townsend Farms’ Organic Antioxidant Blend mix contained pomegranate seeds from Turkey.

Additional Reading:
CDC. Multistate outbreak of Hepatitis A infections associated with “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Outbreaks/2013/A1b-03-31/index.html
US FDA. Townsend Farms Voluntarily Recalls Limited Lots of Frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend Products Due To Possible Health Risk. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm355166.htm