Food Safety Advocates Call on Industry to Vaccinate All Food Handlers Against Hepatitis A

SEATTLE -- In light of the recent, large-scale Hepatitis A exposure in the San Francisco Bay Area, food safety attorneys of the Seattle-based law firm of Marler Clark, are asking restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily vaccinate all workers against Hepatitis A.

“In the last six months Hepatitis A exposures have been linked to two Seattle-area Subways, a Carl’s Jr. in Spokane, WA, Hoggsbreath, a Minnesota restaurant, and three restaurants in Northwest Arkansas, IHOP, U.S. Pizza, and Belvedeers. Now more than seven- hundred children are being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus in California after possible consumption of contaminated strawberries. Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that strawberries have been implicated in the outbreak of a foodborne disease.” Marler continued, “Restaurants and food manufacturers must take action and voluntarily vaccinate all of their employees.”

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is one of the five Hepatitis viruses that are know to cause inflammation of the liver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 150,000 people in the U.S. are infected each year by hepatitis. The illness is characterized by sudden onset of fever, malaise, nausea, anorexia, and abdominal pain, followed by jaundice. The incubation period for Hepatitis A, which varies from 10 to 50 days, is dependent upon the number of infectious particles consumed.

Where does Hepatitis A come from?

Hepatitis A spreads from the feces of infected people, and can produce disease when individuals consume contaminated water or foods. Cold cuts, sandwiches, fruits, fruit juices, milk, milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks are also implicated in outbreaks. Water, shellfish, and salads are common sources. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food processing plants and restaurants is increasingly common.

How can a Hepatitis A infection be prevented?

·       The illness can be prevented by a shot immune globulin within 2 weeks of exposure

·       Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing/eating food.

·       Clean and disinfect bathrooms and diaper-changing surfaces frequently.

·       Never change diapers on eating or food preparing surfaces.

·       Cook shellfish before eating.

·       Drink water from approved source only.

For additional information see the Marler Clark sponsored Web sites about hepatitis A and about hepatitis A litigation.