A woman hospitalized with a hepatitis A infection - one of 30 people infected in five states - has filed a lawsuit after the disease was linked to a popular fruit product sold at Costco. Robert Kovacik reports from Long Beach on the NBC4 News at 11 on Monday, June 3, 2013.
A Long Beach woman has filed a lawsuit after being hospitalized with hepatitis A, one of some 30 people infected in a multi-state outbreak linked to frozen berries sold at a major store chain.
Lynda Brackenridge, 51, told NBC4 that she ate the Townsend Farms organic antioxidant frozen fruit blend every morning. She bought the mix from Costco. Her lawsuit names both companies.
"There's never an excuse to have feces in food, and that's exactly what we have in this case," said her attorney, Ron Simon of Simon & Luke LLP, referring to the way the liver disease is typically spread.
At least six of the cases of the liver disease were in California. The virus was believed to be linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. Costco has removed the product from its shelves, according to the California Department of Public Health.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms is recalling the berry blend, which is sold under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those East Coast stores.
The recall came three days after the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control first announced a suspected link between the berries and the illnesses. At least 34 illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.
Attorney Bill Gaar, representing Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., earlier told the Associated Press that investigators appeared to be focusing on imported pomegranate seeds in the product.
The department has recommended anyone with the product at their home should throw it away. Anyone who has consumed the fruit mix in the last 14 days should contact their doctor, said the agency's director, Dr. Ron Chapman.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice. Symptoms develop two to six weeks after consuming contaminated food or drink, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The potentially severe illness can last up to several months and can require hospitalization.
The illnesses have been reported since the end of April in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.