Recalled Pomegranate Product May Be Tied to Hep. A Outbreak

The product contains seeds imported from Turkey that have been linked to a nationwide hepatitis A outbreak

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a recall on a frozen pomegranate product that could be associated with a nationwide outbreak of hepatitis A.

The FDA has specifically recalled lots of Woodstock Frozen Pomegranate Kernels that were sold across various stores in San Diego County. The product contains imported pomegranate seeds identified by health investigators as a common link in a multi-state hepatitis A outbreak.

Along with the product recall, FDA officials told NBC News they will detain shipments of these potentially tainted pomegranate seeds, which were imported from Turkey.

FDA officials say an unspecified number of shipments from Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading will not be admitted in the U.S., effective immediately.

On Friday, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said the Woodstock pomegranate product was sold in eight-ounce pouches (package label pictured above) with the UPC Code “0 42563 01628 9” imprinted on the back portion of the packaging, below the zip-lock seal.

The FDA says the recalled lots include:

  • C 0129 (A,B, or C) 035 with a best by date of 02/04/2015
  • C 0388 (A,B, or C) 087 with a best by date of 03/28/2015
  • C 0490 (A,B, or C) 109 with a best by date of 04/19/2015

Health officials urge consumers who bought these lots to throw away the product immediately, but keep the proof of purchase.

Again, the recalled lots of the Woodstock product contain pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey linked to a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis A that struck the U.S. earlier this month.

The seeds were also used inside Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries sold at Costco. That particular product was also recalled earlier this month, and was linked to 127 cases of hepatitis A nationwide, including 15 cases in San Diego County.

In local cases, infected individuals reported eating the berry blend before becoming ill.

On May 31, the California Department of Public Health issued a warning to consumers to not eat the Townsend Farms berry blend product.

Although the newly-recalled Woodstock product has not been linked to any illnesses, the recall has been issued as a precaution.

Health officials say anyone who ate a product containing these pomegranate seeds should contact their healthcare provider, especially if they’ve never been vaccinated for hepatitis A. If they ate the seeds within the last two weeks, a vaccine could help curb the illness.

The risk of contracting the disease from the seeds is low, but health officials say common symptoms of hepatitis A include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, abdomen pain, dark urine and jaundice. Symptoms may appear two to seven weeks after exposure.

Hepatitis A varies in severity, and it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

Eric McDonald, Deputy Public Health officer for the County of San Diego, said the hepatitis A outbreak is likely far from over, and additional product recalls are forthcoming.

“This the second product sold in San Diego County associated with the pomegranate seeds from Turkey. The FDA has indicated that there will be more recalls based on other products that these seeds were used in,” McDonald told  NBC 7. “We don’t know how fast those recalls will occur, but we do know they are coming."

Anyone who ate the tainted Woodstock Frozen Pomegranate Kernels product can visit the FDA website for more details on the recall. Consumers can also call the Scenic Fruit Company at (877) 927-3434 Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Consumers with questions about possible exposure to hepatitis A can read more information on the County website or contact the HHSA Epidemiology Program at (619) 692-8499. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about the hepatitis A outbreak here.

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