UPDATE: An FDA spokesman told Food Safety News that the agency cannot make public specific details, including what other entities bought the implicated berries from Townsend Farms, while the investigation it is ongoing.
Frozen berries packaged under Costco’s signature Kirkland brand are now part of a nationwide recall that began when government testing found hepatitis A contamination in frozen blackberries that are used in multiple products from Townsend Farms Inc.
Costco sold the recalled frozen berries in stores in San Diego, Los Angles, and in Hawaii, according to the Townsend Farms recall notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration. The recall notice urges consumers to check their homes for the berries.
“Members who have purchased the product should not consume it. Instead, photograph the product bag for your records, dispose of the product and contact your local Costco for a full refund,” the recall notice states.
Kroger Co. distributed similar products to stores nationwide. It has already recalled three frozen berry products that are packaged under its Private Selection brand. Kroger sent the berries to its banner stores and its stores operating under 26 other names. (See store list here.)
The FDA has not released any information about whether Townsend used the implicated blackberries in products for its other customers.
Townsend’s recall of Costco’s Kirkland brand products only involves 4-pound bags of frozen berries labeled as “Three Berry Blend” and marked with best-by dates between Feb. 16, 2020, and May 4, 2020.
Consumers can identify the recalled Costco Kirkland multi-berry product by looking for the following best-by codes located in the white box on the back of the product bags:
FEB1620,(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
APR1920,(B),(C), or (D);
APR2020(A),(B),(C),(D),(E), or (F);
APR2720(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
APR2820(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H);
MAY0220(A),(B),(C),(D),(E),(F),(G), or (H); or
The recall states that none of the Kirkland branded berries have tested positive for hepatitis A virus contamination. However, blackberries that Townsend has been using for an undisclosed length of time did test positive.
“. . . a recent FDA test indicated that a domestic conventional frozen blackberry product manufactured by Townsend Farms Inc., may be contaminated with Hepatitis A. Townsend Farms, Inc. used the domestic conventional frozen blackberry to manufacture the Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend product. . .” according to the recall notice
“Costco has no product in its current inventory. Costco has been notifying its members about the potential health risk.”
According to the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no customer illness reports to date related to any product manufactured by Townsend Farms, Inc., using these blackberries.
Anyone who has the recalled berries should not consume them. Instead, photograph the product bag for your records, dispose of the product and contact your local Costco for a full refund.
Costco members who have questions should contact Townsend Farms, Inc., customer service representatives at 877-244- 0947 or by email at TownsendFarms4283@stericycle.com.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)