In our continuing efforts to keep readers of our blog safe, we wanted to offer an update to a post we reported on earlier this month. As you may recall, Townsend Farms recalled a large batch of their frozen berry mix after the product tested positive for hepatitis A. At the beginning of the month, the Centers for Disease Control had only linked the product to approximately 34 cases. Now, only weeks later, the contaminated product has been linked to at least 99 cases of acute hepatitis A infection.
Some residents in California, who became sick from the food-borne illness, have already sought legal counsel in this product liability case and are seeking compensation for the injuries they may have suffered and for medical costs associated with hepatitis A treatment.
It's unknown at this time how many individual lawsuits have been filed against the company though there are reports that several class actions have been filed on behalf on those who became ill from the defective product.
Although the particular strain of hepatitis A that has been linked to the outbreak is commonly found in North Africa and the Middle East--which is where the contaminated pomegranate seeds in the berry mix are believed to have originated--it's unclear whether Townsend Farms was aware of this when purchasing the seeds. If they did know about the food-borne illness and did not do tests before introducing the seeds into the berry mix then it's possible that victims could argue negligence on the company's part. Such unsafe procedures has many people in California now questioning whether Townsend Farms really has customer safety in mind.
Source: Food Safety News, "San Diego Man Sues Townsend for Hepatitis A Infection Linked to Berries," June 13, 2013