Hepatitis A incident leads Colorado restaurant to make vaccinations for staff mandatory

Ft. Collins Colarodo is home of New Belgium beer, Colorado State University, and a restaurant that has been stung by having a food handler test positive with Hepatitis A. According to thedenverchannel.comTortilla Marissa’s North of the Border Cafe is closed until public health folks give them the okay to reopen.TortillaMarissas_1403912791692_6553175_ver1.0_640_480

A food worker employed at restaurant at 2635 S. College Ave., tested positive for Hepatitis A, a disease that might be passed to others through food directly handled by the employee before any symptoms appeared, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.

Officials said diners who consumed food or drinks — either dine-in or take-out — from the restaurant in the past 14 days could benefit from getting a Hepatitis A vaccination or Immune Globulin injection to reduce the risk of illness.

Shots can be obtained from private health care providers or at two special clinics the Health Department will be holding on Sunday and Monday specifically for those potentially exposed  to Hepatitis A through the restaurant.

According to a statement released by the restaurant, they are making Hep A vaccinations mandatory for their staff.

We have instituted some new procedures including all future staff will be required to get an Hepatitis A vaccination before being allowed to work at Tortilla Marissa’s;  we have written a new employee sick policy based on best practices from around the country; and created some new systems in the kitchen. All of these practices exceed the standards set by the Larimer County Health Department as we are committed to our patrons health.

Now market it, so consumers know at retail; nearly all Westside melon handlers now certified

Tom Burfield of The Packer reports that as California’s Westside cantaloupe industry kicks off its second season under a safety inspection program, nearly all of the state’s cantaloupe handlers have received the required certification, said John Gilstrap, manager of the Dinuba-based California Cantaloupe Advisory Board.

cantaloupe.washGilstrap said that, to his knowledge, the cantaloupe marketing order that took effect in 2013 is “the only one in the produce industry that invites government auditors to inspect all aspects of the operation.”

To be certified, growers and handlers must comply with a 156-point checklist. If they don’t, they have to make corrections and be reinspected.

They’re also required to have a traceback system.

Names of certified handlers are listed on the board’s website, calcantaloupes.com. Companies that are decertified also will be listed, Gilstrap said, but companies that are pending certification will not be.

Hepatitis A warning for patrons of Jerusalem hotel

Health officials in Israel are issuing a warning for patrons of the Eyal Hotel in downtown Jerusalem after an employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to a Yeshiva World report today. The employee was a cook with the hotel on Shamai Street.

hepatitis.AHealth officials are asking guests who ate breakfast in the hotel between the 18th and 23rd of May to report to their family physician if they were not vaccinated in the past. The warning states the vaccine can still be helpful at this time and it is advised to act as quickly as possible in the matter.

Red Robin has second hepatitis A incident in two weeks, this time in Missouri

Two weeks ago I wrote that I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A.

Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.RedRobinLogo1-300x214

Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t outweigh the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs. The stuff that a Stroudsburg, PA Red Robin restaurant is going through right now.

The corporate Red Robin folks must be working overtime, as an identical situation has popped up at a Missouri outlet of the chain. Same story, different location. According to USA Today, up to 5,000 may have been exposed to hepatitis A following after a food handler was diagnosed with the virus.

Health officials worry that as many as 5,000 people could have been exposed to hepatitis A at a Red Robin restaurant here after a worker was diagnosed with the virus.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials received a report Tuesday about the illness, which can affect the liver, and worked with state and federal officials to get enough vaccine shipped so people who went to the restaurant May 8 to 16 can be immunized.

The goal is to get as many customers vaccinated within 14 days of their possible exposure, officials said Wednesday. Otherwise, the shot won’t work, so they’ve set up clinics through the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“Upon being informed of the incident, the Springfield Red Robin took all safety measures to ensure the well being of our guests and team members including arranging the inoculation of all Springfield team members with the immune globulin prophylaxis shot,” Red Robin Gourmet Burgers officials said in a statement.

Wonder how many incidents it takes for a company to tip the scales to benefit outweighing cost on providing or requiring food handlers to have a hep A vaccination.

Hamptons residents not pleased: Hep A restaurant offers to host Kardashians

Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian have found a site for their Dash store in The Hamptons.

Restauranteur Irma Herzog – whose Driver’s Seat Restaurant was investigated last year after an employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A – has risked the wrath of local residents in Southampton by “betraying” the upmarket village and leasing an art gallery space adjacent to her eatery to the sisters, who are planning to spend the summer in the resort for new reality show ‘Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons’.

Kourtney-and-Khloe-Take-The-HamptonsOne outraged source told the New York Post newspaper: “Southamptonites are abuzz that Irma Herzog has betrayed their village . . . Will Irma also be bringing back another bout of hepatitis?

“Now she brings trash to her backyard. People are lining up to buy Irma’s property and get her out of town. She is a piranha.” 

Hepatitis A linked to Red Robin restaurant in Pennsylvania

If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots. RedRobinLogo1

Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t outweigh the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs. The stuff that a Stroudsburg, PA Red Robin restaurant is going through right now.

According to the Pocono Record, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is looking into a Red Robin food handler who was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A.

“The Disease Prevention and Control Law prohibits us from providing further details as the investigation is ongoing at this time,” said Aimee Tysarczyk, press secretary/director of communications for the state Health Department.

“As the investigation continues and if any public health risks evolve, the department will provide additional information to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, as needed,” Tysarczyk said.

In a statement to the Pocono Record, Red Robin said:

“On May 5, 2014, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that an employee at the Red Robin restaurant in Stroudsburg, Pa., had contracted Hepatitis A.

“The employee has not been in the restaurant since April 27, 2014, and will not return to work until he has been granted medical clearance.

The welfare of our guests and team members is Red Robin’s top priority.

“We are working closely with the health department to go beyond what is required.

With the last restaurant exposure listed as April 27 there isn’t a huge window to administer IgG shots.

From the duh files: should food workers be vaccinated against Hepatitis A?

JoNel Aleccia of NBC News writes the question of whether hepatitis A inoculations should be mandatory for food workers — or whether the cost to business isn’t worth the wider benefit — is gaining renewed attention from federal regulators, health officials and ordinary consumers amid a spate of new restaurant warnings.

hepatitis.AAs many as 17,000 people a year are sickened by hepatitis A, according to 2010 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 95 people die. That’s only a fraction of the 48 million people in the U.S. who are sickened by food poisoning each year, but hepatitis A is the only foodborne bug for which an effective vaccine actually exists.

The hepatitis A virus causes acute liver infection that can trigger lingering illness and even liver failure or death, though that’s rare. It’s spread when a person ingests fecal material from an infected person and causes symptoms that include, fever, chills, nausea, dark-colored urine and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin or eyes.

In 2006, experts began recommending universal hepatitis A vaccines for kids starting at age 1, changing the pool of potential infections.

“There was a very rapid transition in the U.S. over the last half decade,” Murphy said. “We have this gap of adults who are not protected in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.”

In other words, the people most vulnerable to hepatitis A are those most likely to work — and eat — in restaurants.

Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer has lobbied for mandatory vaccination for food handlers since a hepatitis A outbreak tied to two Subway sandwich shops sickened 40 people in 1999.

“It was a horrible outbreak. We represented a bunch of people including a little boy who lost his liver at 8 years old and required a transplant,” he said.

But restaurant industry officials — and some health officials — note that such outbreaks and consequences, though regrettable, are rare.

Imported berry mix cake suspected to be the source of Hepatitis A in Norway

I’m still pissed I can’t figure out where my frozen berries are coming from.

Sure, I live in a sub-tropical climate with an abundance of berries, but retailers with the frozen berries will go for the cheapest source.

And frozen berries have been a mainstay of my diet for decades (because in Canada, fresh berries are available for about six weeks a year).

Guzman-Herrador et al. report in Eurosurveillance that on 7 March 2014, an increase in hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections was identified in Norway. As of 12 April, 19 cases of HAV infection with a virus strain identical to an ongoing European outbreak have been frozen.berry.cakeidentified. Six probable cases are currently under investigation. On 11 April, a frozen berry mix cake imported from another European country was found as the likely source of the outbreak; the importer has withdrawn the product in Norway.

An international traceback investigation is ongoing to find the origin of the berries used in the cake.

Internationally, there’s been over 11,000 cases of Hepatitis A linked to berries from the Mediterranean region over the past two years.

European Hepatitis A-frozen berry update

More than 1,300 hepatitis A cases have been reported in eleven Member States since January 2013, with 240 confirmed cases related to the ongoing outbreak.

Initially the outbreak was associated with people who had travelled to Italy. However seven Member States- France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the raspberry.pieNetherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom- have reported cases of infections in people who had not travelled to Italy.

Preliminary investigations identified frozen berries as the most likely source of infection. Other hypotheses, such as cross contamination in the food production environment or that the outbreak strain is already widespread but previously undetected, have now also been taken into account.

EFSA is leading a trace-back investigation, with the support of affected Member States, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Commission and the Federal Institute for risk assessment (Bfr).

Food Safety Talk 58: Where’s my wallet?

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.1396369706543

In Episode 58 the guys started the show admiring Ben’s new computer, and his House of Clay beer, before talking about Don and Victoria Backham’s treadmill desksRicky Gervais bathtub photosdressing up like a realtor, and confidence intervals.

Don and Ben then welcomed Bill Marler to the show. Bill’s notoriety started with the Jack-in-the-Box outbreak (documented in the book Poisoned). The discussion moved to the Jensen farm legal case, in particular, the criminal aspects of unknowingly shipping contaminated food and the involvement of service providers, i.e. auditors. The guys also discussed the impact on apportioning liability as a result of the recent North Carolina limiting farmers liability law. The conversation then turned to Salmonella and Foster Farm’s chicken and no one could understand why there hadn’t been a recall.

The guys then discussed Listeria and cantaloupes, including CDC’s recommendations and Don’s paper on “Modeling the growth of Listeria monocytogenes on cut cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.”

After a short detour via the AVN Awards, Bill got the chance to explain why he generally doesn’t take on norovirus cases and the lengths he goes to before taking on a case, using the Townsend Farm Hepatitis A outbreak as an example. The conversation then turned to auditors and what the impact of the Jensen Farm litigation case might be.

After saying farewell to Bill, Don and Ben talked about podcasting, including Lex Friedman, and Libsyn’s Rob Walch.

In the after dark the guys chatted about House of CardsTrue Detective, Ben’s quirky Aussie accent, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 andLost.