Costco, Townsend Farms in the crosshairs over hepatitis A outbreak

PORTLAND, Ore. - The number of hepatitis A cases linked to a frozen berry recall has now grown to 61 and two of those people are suing Costco and the local company that produced the product - Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore.

Lynda Brackenridge of Lakeview, Calif., was the first to sue. She said she was active and healthy until two weeks ago. She had eaten Townsend Farms organic antioxidant blend, which she bought at Costco.

On May 22, she started feeling tired, getting chills and her muscles started aching. Later, her urine turned dark, her eyes and skin turned yellow and she began vomiting. Brackenridge is now under quarantine and can only talk about what happened by phone.

"It's very scary that this could happen to anyone," she said.

She and another California woman with a similar story have filed suit claiming that Townsend Farms and Costco negligently imported, manufactured, distributed and marketed the fruit mix, and failed to properly test it.

Their attorney claims the companies also failed to prevent feces from coming into contact with the berry blend.

Townsend Farms did not respond when we asked about the lawsuits and Costco told us they also have no response at this time.

However, Costco is now offering free hepatitis A vaccines to the 240,000 customers who bought the recalled berry blend and have eaten it in the last 10 days.

The firm representing the two women has done big food cases before - like the Peter Pan peanut butter recall six years ago when there was a big salmonella outbreak.

We talked to the state health department on Thursday and they said there are no cases in Oregon or Washington, which is a relief for the thousands of people here who bought the frozen berries and may have eaten some.