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Almost 600 Sick from Hepatitis A in Frozen Berries in 3 outbreaks

Opinion

It’s enough to turn me off to frozen berries – he says while experimenting with a batch of gluten-free crepes filled with previously frozen berries.

As the case count for Hepatitis A linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend reaches 140, outbreaks in Northern Italy and Northern Europe have sickened 352 and 103 respectively. All linked to frozen mixed berries.

Is there a connection?

Maybe probably not, other than human shit. Hepatitis A is everywhere, vaccines work, people in various countries don’t wash their hands and global trade in the smallest of ingredients complicates outbreak investigations.

The Italians fingered mixed berries (redcurrant, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) and a dealer that received consignments of berries from different countries (mix made in Italy, with raw material from Bulgaria, Canada, Poland, and Serbia).

The Nords fingered frozen strawberries as the likely cause but could not exclude other frozen berries. The origin of the berries is still being investigated.

On Wednesday, Swedish supermarket chain Ica announced it was removing all frozen strawberries and some frozen mixed berries from its shelves. The berries come from Morocco and Egypt.

The Americans fingered a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading, and will detain shipments of pomegranate seeds from Goknur arriving into the U.S. Those pomegranate seeds were used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends and by Scenic Fruit Company to make the Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.

The Italians say the genotype and the sequence of the hepatitis A virus isolated in the Italian outbreak is different from the U.S. and Nordic outbreaks.

Keep on investigating, investigators.

And know thy suppliers.

Maybe I’ll go for the gluten-free buckwheat pancakes instead and cook the berries in the batter. But there’s still that cross-contamination factor in the kitchen.

This article originally appeared on BarfBlog July 4, 2013. It has been updated to reflect the number of illnesses linked to the Townsend Farms outbreak as of July 5.

© Food Safety News
  • J T

    Not only do those people not wash their hands, in many of those countries they don’t even use toilet paper! They wipe their rear ends with their hands, clean off their hands on the filthy wall or on the ground, and then they go right back to harvesting your fruits and veggies! Think about the type of people who work menial low-wage jobs here in the states. Now picture what people are like in 3rd world countries who work menial low-wage jobs there… Would you want to even TOUCH anything those people touch, much less eat it?

    • Sheryl

      Everything you just said is pure propaganda. You have a weak mind and a weak character. Of course those people DO NOT wipe their butts with their hands and wipe it off on the ground. Have you even left the country, I’m assuming you’re American because everything you said just screams White American… shame on you, it’s preposterous… your country is the same country putting ammonia in your food and feeding you cows filled with cancer, you dare write this crap, meanwhile you’ve recently ordered a hamburger that not only has rotten beef but also rats and anything that happens to fall into the meat grater…perhaps you guys don’t wash your hands but I believe that the farmers in other countries know more about hygiene than a lot of people from the US… where you come from doesn’t matter… look at your country and it’s faults before you dare try to talk about any other person’s country… shame, shame, shame… I would be offended if you spoke in my direction let alone spit at it.

    • Joseph Augustus

      Haha. Unbelievable!! I can’t tell you how many times here in America I’ve been in a public restroom and seen fellow Americans come out from the toilet after having s*** up a storm then for a measly second or two wet their hands under the tap without even a drop of handwash before proceeding to exit the room.

  • Dr. GL

    Well said JT! Why are we content to regulate our domestic farmers out of business and buy more and more of our food from other countries?

  • Soilflavored

    Dr. GL & J T: Do your investigation, there are more than 80% cases of food borne illnesses every year originating int he USA supply chain that those from imported food.