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WJBD - Health & Fitness News - Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Turkish Pomegranate Seeds

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.

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

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