Oregon farmers optimistic after Hep A outbreak: 'Local produce is fine'

Oregon farmers optimistic after Hep A outbreak: 'Local produce is fine'

EUGENE, Ore. - Over 4,000 bags of frozen berries potentially tainted with Hepatitis A were sold at Costcos across Oregon.

Lane County Public Health said 605 bags of the berry mix linked to the outbreak were sold here, the most of any county statewide.

The "Townsend Organic Farms - Organic Antioxidant Blend" berries were blended and packaged in Fairview, Oregon.

Nearly 40 cases of Hepatitis A have been linked to people eating the frozen fruits, so far none have been confirmed in Oregon. 

Oregon State University specialist Ross Penhallegon said the public needs to understand the process of how crops become contaminated -- from farm to consumption.

“The number of people that touch it are unbelievable … how is it not contaminated?” Penhallegon said of the packaging process. “We need to be aware, we need to be concerned, but we need to understand what's also happening.”

Robin Lee of Lee Farms said that while the outbreak is frightening to a lot of people, he doesn’t think the contaminated berries will tarnish the reputation of Oregon’s produce. 

“The berries are good. Local produce is fine,” Lee said.

Lane County Public Health recommends anyone who consumed the berries within the past two weeks to consult their health care provider.

Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. It is usually spread by the fecal-oral route via ingestion of contaminated food or water but can also be spread through direct contact with an infectious person. The time between infection and the appearance of the symptoms is between two and six weeks with an average incubation period of 28 days.

Early symptoms of hepatitis A infection can be mistaken for influenza, but some sufferers, especially children, exhibit no symptoms at all.

Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people can be ill for as long as 6 months. 


Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Dark amber colored urine
  • Clay-colored feces