In 2013, wholesale retailer Costco faced serious liability after packages of frozen berries sold at its locations were found to contain hepatitis A. The outbreak had sweeping implications, with a class action lawsuit indicating that up to 25,000 consumers may have been exposed to the dangerous virus. The berries were manufactured by Townsend Farms and labeled as an Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend. Soon after a product recall was initiated, Costco issued a warning advising individuals who may have consumed affected bags of the product to obtain a hepatitis A vaccine shot. The company stated that it would provide the shots free of charge to affected individuals.
Costco is facing another wave of liability after reports surfaced recently that the same frozen berries have led to an outbreak of hepatitis A in Canada. The retailer is again offering vaccinations to affected consumers. The frozen berries were manufactured by Nature’s Touch and sold exclusively at Costco stores in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Labrador, and Newfoundland. So far, at least 13 different cases of hepatitis A have been traced back to the contaminated berries. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has instituted a recall for the products, which likely sickened individuals between February 2016 and March 2016, resulting in at least three hospitalizations.
Hepatitis A is a serious condition that can lead to major health issues and complications. Common results of hepatitis A infections include liver inflammation, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, muscle pains, low appetite, and more. The symptoms typically last for one to two weeks, but some severe cases can last upwards of several months.
The recent outbreak in Canada raises concerns about whether Costco and the product manufacturers with which it contracts are taking appropriate measures to ensure that they are selling products that are safe for consumption. A consumer who experiences injuries as a result of consuming contaminated food may bring a negligence action against a number of parties involved in the food production chain to seek compensation for his or her damages. This includes everyone from the farmer who produced the berries to the retailer who sold them to the consumer, which in this instance would be Costco.
In general, food producers, manufacturers, and retailers have a duty to use reasonable care when preparing and selling food. This includes eliminating any dangers or risks that could lead to food contamination. If a producer fails to use adequate sanitation methods when harvesting spinach, resulting in e. coli contamination, for example, the producer has acted negligently and will be liable to any consumer who suffers an e. coli infection as a result of consuming the spinach.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of contaminated or unsafe food, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our food contamination lawyers have assisted numerous plaintiffs across the country with collecting evidence and bringing a claim against the parties responsible for their illnesses, and we are ready to do the same for you. We serve victims throughout the United States, including in Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.