Recently a Hepatitis A outbreak has been linked to contaminated frozen berries sold in grocery stores. The frozen berry mix was identified as a berry and pomegranate mix that was sold at a couple different retail stores including Costco. The outbreak affected people in 7 different states in total and at the time of the story had made 79 people sick by exposing them to Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a disease that causes a very serious and even fatal form of liver disease. When it is found in food it is likely caused by the food preparer handling the food with dirty hands.
When the outbreak initially occurred, health officials were worried that the disease would be spread to a number of children, since frozen berries are used in a bunch of treats that are common for children, including smoothies and ice popsicles.
Surprisingly, once more people became infected it became clear that children were actually not the ones likely to be infected during this particular outbreak. Of the 79 reported cases, only one case involved a young child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) credits this surprising statistic to childhood vaccinations. Routine childhood vaccinations currently (since 2006) always offer protection against Hepatitis A. The CDC’s thought was further supported by the fact that the only child that was infected by this outbreak was a young boy who had not had routine vaccinations.
According to USA Today, while the Hepatitis A vaccine first became available in 1996, it was not until 2006 that it became a required part of childhood routine vaccinations. The vaccine has shown great decrease in the disease in the United States, in 1995 there were over 31,000 reported cases of Hepatitis A and recently there were only 1,670 reported cases in one calendar year. Once administered, the vaccine can offer several decades of protection to the person who received the vaccine.
When an outbreak like this occurs, there are several parties that may be held responsible and held liable. The manufacturer of the product may be sued as well as in come cases, the store that sold the product. In this case, Costco stores that sold the tainted fruit were proactive in trying to protect their customers. Costco called all parties that they could reach that they knew had bought the product during a certain period of time, and offered to pay for the Hepatitis A vaccines for those people. Costco also offered vaccines at their store for those affected.
Costco’s approach is a good way to help and limit the number of people that get food poisoning and suffer serious personal injury because of the tainted product. Parties that may be found to be responsible can help mitigate the situation by trying to help parties before injury occurs and alert them to the possible situation as soon as it is known. If you or a loved one became sick as a result of eating tainted food, please contact our office today to talk about your specific situation and see what legal remedies or what other options may be available to you and to your family.