FDA detains pomegranate seeds linked to outbreak that has sickened 127

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

FDA detains pomegranate seeds linked to outbreak that has sickened 127

Related tags: Fruit, Food and drug administration, Hepatitis a

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found it “likely” that shipments of pomegranate seeds imported by Goknur of Turkey are responsible for the Hepatitis A outbreak which has now infected 127 people across the US.

Goknur Gida Maddeleri Ithalat Ihracat Tic [Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading] of Turkey will have its cargo detained on arrival, said the US Food and Drug Administration.

This represents a further step in the investigation by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the source of the Hepatitis A outbreak.

The Hepatitis A virus had been traced back​ from sufferers to Townsend Farms, Inc. of Oregon, whose Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend products contain frozen berries and pomegranate seeds.

Virus Source

Now, an investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that the source of the virus “appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from Goknur used by Townsend Farms to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends that were recalled in June.​”

Pomegranate seeds imported by Goknur of Turkey were also used by Scenic Fruit Company, based in Oregon. Although no Hepatitis infections have been associated with the product, Scenic Fruit has voluntarily recalled its Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels.

The CDC’s latest report is that the Hepatitis A outbreak numbers 127 people, with the greatest incidence in California, where 64 people became ill with the disease.

Infection associated with exposure to the seeds has also occurred in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin; the two people who were reported ill in Wisconsin consumed the product in California.

Challenges Posed

Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, commented on the probe: “This outbreak highlights the food safety challenge posed by today’s global food system.

The presence in a single product of multiple ingredients from multiple countries compounds the difficulty of finding the cause of an illness outbreak,​” he continued.

The Hepatitis A outbreak shows how we have improved our ability to investigate and respond to outbreaks, but also why we are working to build a food safety system that more effectively prevents them,​” said Taylor.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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