Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Pomegranate Seeds

Consumers are being urged to throw away specific lots of Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels, the second product sold in San Diego County associated with a national outbreak of hepatitis A, according to officials with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). 

The recalled lots of the Woodstock product contain pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey that were also used to produce Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen berries. Although the Woodstock product has not been linked to any illnesses, the Townsend Farms berry blend has sickened 127 people nationwide, including 15 San Diego County residents.

“If you ate a product containing these pomegranate seeds in the past two weeks and you have never been vaccinated for hepatitis A or had the disease, you should contact your health care provider to discuss hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Anyone who ate these products should be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis A and seek medical attention early if they appear.”

The recalled Woodstock Organic Pomegranate Kernels were sold in various San Diego County stores in eight-ounce pouches with the UPC Code 0 42563 01628 9 located on the back portion of these pouches below the zip-lock seal. The recalled lots are:

  • 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

The risk of contracting hepatitis A from eating the pomegranate seed products is low. If you have ever been vaccinated for hepatitis A or have been diagnosed with hepatitis A in the past, you are considered protected from the disease. The hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin can prevent infection if given within 14 days of exposure.

Signs of hepatitis A appear two to seven weeks after exposure. Symptoms commonly include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, dark urine and jaundice (yellow eyes or skin). It is important if you have these symptoms that you seek medical attention and do not work in food service, health care or child care until you are no longer infectious.

Hepatitis A varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer. The disease can be severe and result in hospitalization. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have mild illness. Even people with mild symptoms should consult a health care provider. Those who do not have a provider should call 2-1-1San Diego to locate available clinics in their communities.

Anyone who ate a recalled product and has questions about possible exposure to hepatitis A should check for information at the County website or contact the HHSA Epidemiology Program at (619) 692-8499.