Issaquah-Costco Corporation has contacted 240,000 customers who purchased Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries from Townsend Farms after 87 people in eight states were sickened with hepatitis A.
Costco has been able to contact customers who bought the berries because all purchases made at Costco stores are linked to a membership card which provides a means to contact customers in the case of a recall.
Costco is providing hepatitis A vaccines at their stores as well as reimbursing those who have already been vaccinated in the wake of the Hep-A outbreak. Vaccinations within two weeks of coming into contact with the hepatitis A virus can prevent a person from becoming ill.
Children have not been affected very much in this latest outbreak of foodborne illness because childhood immunizations protect most children. There was one 2-year-old who was sickened, but that child had not been vaccinated. Pediatricians usually vaccinate a child twice before their first birthday.
Costco is in the forefront of food safety in agreeing to pay more for some produce in agreement with the farmer that the farm workers receive a higher base pay and training to prevent and recognize conditions that could lead to food contamination. Costco’s belief that prevention of foodborne illness is easier than the alternatives such as recalls and ill customers.
Costco has a Quality Assurance and Food Safety Mission Statement that reads:
“Promote continuous improvement in product quality, and food safety systems, for the benefit of our members and suppliers”