A Hepatitis A outbreak across five states traced to an organic frozen berry mix sold at Costco left thirty people have been infected, and nine of them hospitalized.
And health officials are bracing for more cases if cafes and restaurants that bought the frozen blend used it to make smoothies, frozen bar drinks and other desserts for customers.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have linked the reported illnesses to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend, a mix of berries and pomegranate seeds produced by Townsend Farms in Oregon.
The first victim got sick on April 29 with the most recent case reported on May 17, although USA Today reports more are expected.
The victims, aged between 25 and 71 years old, live in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.
About 11 of 17 of those infected said they bought the berry mix at Costco, according to CNN.
A Costco spokesman said that the company has removed the product from stores and is attempting to contact members who purchased the product in recent months.
A Hepatitis A outbreak across five states traced to an organic frozen berry mix sold at Costco left thirty people have been infected, and nine of them hospitalized
Townsend Farms lawyer Bill Gaar said the frozen organic blend bag included pomegranate seeds sourced from Turkey, and were only used in the product associated with the outbreak.
“We do have very good records, we know where the (pomegranate seeds) came from, we’re looking into who the broker is and we’re sourcing it back up the food chain to get to it,” Bill Gaar
He said Townsend Farms believes Costco is the only customer who bought the product but are checking to see if any other retailers also sold it.
CNN reports state health departments, the FDA and the CDC are investigating, after notifying Townsend Farms on Thursday and sending investigators to the Fairview farm.
Hepatitis A is a highly infectious disease which inflames the liver, and is usually transmitted via contaminated food or water, or by someone who is infected.
The Mayo Clinic website states: “Mild cases of Hepatitis A don’t require treatment, and most people who are infected recover completely with no permanent liver damage.”
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) says severe infection can lead to liver failure and death, with about 1.4 million cases of Hepatitis A annually worldwide.
Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were pictured shopping at their local bulk warehouse Costco near their home in La Jolla, California on Tuesday.
The couple stocked up on bottled water, pretzels, fruit snacks, Dixie cups and paper towels. Mitt and Ann Romney also seemed to be preparing for Christmas as their carts had a few rolls of gift wrap and a toy car that will likely be a present for one of their 18 grandchildren.
Overlooking no details, they even remembered to pick up a box of Bisquik for pancakes on Christmas morning.
The Romney’s fondness for the discount membership club is no secret, as they frequently talked about their trips to Costco during the campaign trail.
Cynical political analysts cried foul, saying that the they were trying to use their mentions of the budget store as a way to help lessen the public perception that the former governor was out of touch with the “common man” because of his great wealth.
The family’s affinity for the store seems genuine, however, as Ann Romney repeatedly boasted that it was the easiest- and most fiscally responsible- way to feed her large family.
When the couple’s five sons, their wives and all of their children come over for dinner, the total number of Romneys at the various dinner tables can easily add up to 30 people.
Mitt Romney and his wife Ann were pictured shopping at their local bulk warehouse Costco near their home in La Jolla
During an interview on the Rachael Ray show during the campaign, Ann Romney told the celebrity chef how she always has her route mapped out before she goes in the store.
“Wholesale shops are big, you have to go with a game plan before you start,” she said at the time.
During that appearance, Ann Romney talked a great deal about how she buys the store’s produce- both fresh and frozen- and stocks up on desserts.
But the pictures from their Tuesday trip to the California store reveal that she and Mitt Romney focused more on the non-perishables this time.
It looks like in addition to picking up some Christmas presents for the kids, the couple may have also gotten a puffy black jacket for Mitt Romney, as one was seen hanging off the side of his cart.
He tried to blend in during the trip, and was dressed casually in khaki shorts, a navy athletic shirt a baseball cap and sneakers, but his black sunglasses inside the store may have been a bit conspicuous.
Ann seemed relaxed but made less of an effort to blend in with the masses as she accessorized her black leisurewear with a hot pink scarf.
The former presidential candidate has laid low ever since he lost the election, relaxing with his family in La Jolla, taking time out to see the latest edition of the Twilight saga and accompanying his grandchildren to Disneyland.
Mitt Romney briefly popped back up on the political radar when he had lunch with President Barack Obama in the White House last week, though he did not speak to reporters after the meeting and only one joint photo was released.
As of Monday, Mitt Romney officially has an income again, since he announced yesterday that he will be re-joining the board of directors of the hotel chain, Marriott.
Board members receive an annual salary of $60,000 as well as $110,000 in company stock as compensation for their efforts.
Mitt Romney served on the board of the company from 1993 to 2002 when he resigned to serve as governor of Massachusetts.
He re-joined the board in 2009 and resigned again in January 2011 as the campaign heated up with the seemingly-unending process of Republican primaries.
Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, has been one part of a travelling trio during her campaign trail in Florida this week.
Campaigning for Mitt Romney on a bus tour through the swing state, which is expected to play a key role in the upcoming presidential election, the 63-year-old was accompanied by her two grandsons, 6-year-old Parker and 4-year-old Miles.
Ann Romney tweeted: “Love having Parker and Miles with me on our bus tour. Here’s a pic of us having some fun on the @RomneyBus.”
As the matriarch of a family of 30, Ann Romney also appeared on an episode of The Rachel Ray Show earlier today, giving away her mass-shopping secrets.
She watched the show with both of her grandsons from their hotel suite in Florida, the boys relishing seeing their grandmother on the small screen.
On the show, Ann Romney revealed that for roughly $137.50, she says she can feed her five sons as well as their families, a total of 30 people, for just $4.50 a head.
Ann Romney credits this budget shopping-list to Costco, where she admitted she “always starts at”.
While filling a shopping cart up with spinach, raspberries, frozen cream puffs and the family’s staple, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, Ann Romney said: “The great thing about frozen desserts, they’re always ready to go.”
She added: “Wholesale shops are big, you have to go with a game plan before you start.
“There are great deals on fresh produce… My other favorite thing, I have to say, is I never leave without raspberries and blueberries.”
Ann Romney is campaigning for her husband on a bus tour through the swing state with her two grandsons, Parker and Miles
Ann Romney added: “And with frozen cream puffs, you can personalize them by adding chocolate sauce and ice-cream.”
She also spoke about suffering from multiple sclerosis while raising a family.
Ann Romney said: “When I was first diagnosed with MS and my husband was taking care of me, he discovered rotisserie chicken.”
“Rotisserie chicken is every cooks best friend,” she said.
“You want to buy it at the end of your shopping so it doesn’t heat up the food that’s in the rest of your basket.”
The Romney’s buffet-style family dinners often consist of home-made creamed spinach, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, honey-mustard dipping sauce, roasted butternut squash, frozen cream puffs with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
While also preparing Mitt Romney’s favorite dish, meatloaf cakes, on the show, she said: “Mitt is not a picky eater. He will eat anything you put in front of him.”
This isn’t the first time Ann Romney has endorsed Costco.
In August this year, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked the Romneys about hearing that they have an “unhealthy attraction” to Costco.
“We both love Costco,” said Ann Romney.
“It’s got great produce,” agreed the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate.
“She also got me one of these three-packs of shirts the other day from Costco. And they’re very nice shirts,” he added.