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?
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