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"FDA Detains Pomegranate Seeds From Turkey Tied to Hepatitis Outbreak"

NBC News | JoNel Aleccia

"Food and Drug Administration officials say they will detain shipments of pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey after an investigation identified the fruit as a common link in an outbreak of acute hepatitis A that has sickened nearly 130 people in the U.S.

Shipments from Goknur Gida Maddeleri Ithalat Ihracat Tic -- Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading -- will not be admitted into the country, FDA officials said Saturday. It was not immediately clear how much product could be detained.

An FDA review of records determined that a shipment of the firm’s pomegranate seeds was the only common ingredient in a frozen berry fruit mix sold at Costco and Harris Teeter stores.

Packages of Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blend were recalled June 3 after reports of illness. FDA inspectors have been reviewing practices at fruit producer Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., since early June.

At least 127 people in eight states have been sickened by acute hepatitis A after consuming the fruit mix, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. Fifty-five people have been hospitalized.

Illnesses have been reported between March 31 and June 15 in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin. The people who were ill in Wisconsin were exposed to the product in California, CDC officials said.

In addition, the pomegranate seeds were used by the Scenic Fruit Company of Gresham, Ore., to make their Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels, which were recalled this week. The company recalled 61,092 8-ounce bags of the seeds, the FDA reported."

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