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Costco Product Recalled After HEP A Scare

(Las Vegas, NV)  An Oregon company is recalling a frozen berry mix sold to Costco and Harris Teeter stores after the product was linked to at least 34 hepatitis A illnesses in five states, including Nevada.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., is recalling its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores.

Illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. Hawaii health officials are also investigating three cases of hepatitis A in people who have eaten the frozen berry product.

Hepatitis A illnesses occur within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool

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. The agency did not say why there was not an immediate recall.

Costco has multiple stores in the Las Vegas valley, while Harris Teeter stores are in eight East Coast states and the District of Columbia. Both grocery chains have said they have pulled the product from store shelves.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that can last from a few weeks to a several months. People often contract it when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene. Food already contaminated with the virus can also cause outbreaks.

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