Organic Berries Linked to Hepatitis Outbreak

[caption id="attachment_2123" align="alignleft" width="300"]oklahoma products liability lawyer Image Credit: FDA.gov[/caption] Millions of Americans turn to certified organic foods in an effort to avoid pesticides, GMOs, and other franken-foods with potentially scary effects on one's health. Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend sounds like the perfect healthy treat--organic, so it doesn't contain chemicals and genetically engineered foods; antioxidants to fight free radicals. The ingredient list of this blend sounds refreshing and healthy: "Dark Tart Cherries, Pomegranate Arils, Strawberries, Red Raspberries, Blueberries" . . . and Hepatitis. A recent outbreak of hepatitis A has been linked to the Townsend Farms frozen berry blend, prompting lawsuits from those stricken with the disease after eating what they assumed to be a safer product than non-organic produce. More than 60 cases of hepatitis A in seven states are believed to be associated with contaminated pomegranate seeds in the Townsend Farms product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a voluntary recall of the frozen berry blend after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigation traced the hepatitis A outbreak to a Turkish producer of the pomegranate arils. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious acute liver disease that is prominent in developing countries and areas with poor hygiene. It is often transmitted by fecal-oral transmission, commonly by ingesting food or water handled by an infected person. Hepatitis A has a low mortality rate, but advanced age and underlying chronic liver conditions increase the chance of death from liver failure. At least one woman has filed a lawsuit against Townsend Farms and Costco, the grocery retailer from whom she bought the contaminated organic berries. At least 11 people have been hospitalized, with one nearly being placed on the liver transplant list because of the severity of his illness. Locally, a hepatitis scare created by a Tulsa-area dentist accused of using rusty, unsterilized dental implements continues to play out. Yesterday, the Tulsa City County Health Department revealed that two more former patients of Dr. W. Scott Harrington have tested positive for hepatitis C, a viral liver disease typically associated with blood-to-blood contact from shared needles in intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical tools, and blood transfusions. Of the more than 4,000 patients who have been tested following the discovery of unsanitary conditions in Dr. Harrington's offices, 73 have tested positive for bloodborne illness, including 73 with hepatitis C, 5 with hepatitis B, and 3 with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is not confirmed that the patients who tested positive for bloodborne disease contracted the viruses from Dr. Harrington's office, and health officials say contracting hepatitis or HIV from dental implements is rare. Still, given the deplorable conditions lurking beneath the clean facade of Dr. Harrington's dental practice, it seems reasonable that he may be facing malpractice litigation in the near future.

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