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Saturday
Jun292013

Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Turkish Pomegranate Seeds

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The FDA announced Saturday it will block shipments of pomegranate seeds from a company in Turkey after U.S. health officials determined that the seeds are to blame for a multi-state outbreak of Hepatitis A that has sickened more than 120 people.

The outbreak began several months ago, and as of this week the CDC reports 127 people were exposed and sickened by in 10 states across the U.S. Health officials were able to trace the outbreak back to the seeds that were used in Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, a frozen food blend sold at Costco and Harris Teeter.

“Hepatitis A is a foodborne illness,” explained ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr Richard Besser. “It's spread from either contaminated food or contaminated waters, so the presumption is that [when] this was being harvested in Turkey, someone had hepatitis A and it was able to get onto the seeds. From there it survives very well.”

Pomegranate seeds were a particularly effective vehicle for the spread of disease, as the seeds are eaten raw. “Whenever you're eating a raw product, you're at greater risk of a food-borne illness because heat is one of the best ways of killing so many different germs,” Besser said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio