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2 More Hepatitis A Lawsuits Filed Against Townsend Farms

Townsend Farms, the organic berry and pomegranate-mix manufacturer whose products were recalled due to hepatitis A contamination earlier this month, is facing 2 additional lawsuits from people who allege they fell ill with hepatitis A infections after consuming the company’s berry and pomegranate seed mix.

According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona, Claudine Rad ate the Townsend Farms organic berry mix multiple times during April and May.  She initially fell ill with flu-like symptoms, fatigue and nausea and later became jaundiced — a typical sign of hepatitis A infection.

After learning that the Townsend Farms product was being recalled, Rad sought medical care for what she suspected to be a hepatitis A infection, and learned in early June that she had tested positive for hepatitis A.

Rad’s attorneys allege that she lost over 3 weeks of work-time due to her illness and that she has still not fully recovered.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Yolo County Superior Court in California, a man alleges that he ate the Townsend Farms product in April and fell ill with symptoms of hepatitis A infection on May 5.

The man, who also tested positive for hepatitis A, was hospitalized from May 15 through May 18, spending 2 nights in the intensive care unit. Despite being discharged from the hospital, his attorneys allege that he continues to receive medical treatment and that he has not fully recovered from his illness.

The public health investigation into the hepatitis A outbreak led to the determination that pomegranate seeds from Turkey were the likely source of hepatitis A in the Townsend Farms product.  The CDC stated that the genotype of hepatitis A associated with the outbreak is 1B, a strain rarely seen in the Americas but that circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.

Hepatitis A genotype 1B was associated with outbreaks in Europe and Canada in 2013 and 2012, respectively.  In both outbreak-situations, frozen berries or frozen berry blends with pomegranate seeds were implicated as the source of illness.

See:  Townsend Farms and Organic Certification: How are Imports Evaluated?

Both plaintiffs are represented by Marler Clark, the law firm that underwrites Food Safety News.  The law firm has filed 3 other individual lawsuits against Townsend Farms on behalf of people who allege they fell ill with hepatitis A infections after eating the berry mix and 7 class action lawsuits on behalf of residents of 7 states who received hepatitis A vaccination or immune globulin injections to prevent illness after they learned they were exposed to the virus.

If administered within 2 weeks of exposure to the virus, Hepatitis A vaccine and immune globulin can either prevent infection or lessen the severity of symptoms.

“It seems to me that Townsend Farms had some warning that it should be examining its suppliers’ food safety practices,” said attorney Bill Marler.  “What we think of as healthy food can only be good for us if it is safe.”

© Food Safety News