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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

We should be getting Hepatitis A vaccines – especially, food service workers

havr720t.jpgYesterday it was a Boise, Idaho Cheesecake Factory restaurant that had an employee test positive for Hepatitis A while he or she worked, presenting a risk of infection to restaurant customers.  The Boise employee apparently was not involved in food preparation however, so the risk of infection to customers is thought to be low.  Though, if that employee had had a Hepatitis A vaccine, there would have been no bad news for the Cheesecake Factory or its customers.  Now customers must wait to see if symptoms show.

News reports today out Gonzales Restaurant in Dallas County, Texas in another Hepatitis A problem.  Apparently, an employee tested positive for Hepatitis A.  The Dallas County Health Department is now trying to contact people who ate there between January 25-28.  Again, this would not be news if that employee had had a Hepatitis A vaccine.  Now, again, customers must wait to see if symptoms show.

A new CDC report shows in 2010 just over 10 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 49 years old got a Hepatitis A shot.  The CDC says more needs to be done to encourage adults to get their vaccinations, including increasing access to immunizations and educating people on their importance.  Hepatitis A can be serious:

Richard Miller Hepatitis A Food Poisoning Illness and Lawsuit from Marlerclark on Vimeo.

  • Gil Ramirez

    Fortunately kids have been getting the HepA vaccine since the 90’s as part of the standard set. The CDC should set up a similar standard for adults – when they get their booster shots, add the HepA shot.

  • Domenic

    Couldn’t agree with you more! When I was Director of Health Protection for Vancouver (leading up to the 2010 Olympics) we pressed for mandatory food-handler hepatitis vaccinations for Olympic food venues. We were stopped in our tracks by the IOC and local organizing committee – we were told such a requirement would contravene human rights legislation. What about the rights of a visitor to the Olympics, an athlete eating meals at the Olympic Village or the rest of us who dine out in restaurants, to be protected from hepatitis?
    This silly argument also reaches into our healthcare organizations, where nurses (who should know better) refuse to get flu vaccinations, even though they are dealing with “at risk” patients in hospitals and care facilities!
    We experienced two large hepatitis outbreaks in Vancouver, one at “O-tooz Energie Bar” near the Convention Centre which left infected customers in many parts of the globe (New York, Amsterdam, Hong Kong). This popular “healthy food” chain dropped off the map after this. The second one was an outbreak associated with a Capers Food store (another “healthier food” company). They handled this one quite well, vaccinated their employees after the fact and survived to thrive. We (public health) took advantage of the media around this outbreak to offer reduced cost Hepatitis vaccinations and various clinics and companies across town. As you might suspect, as the outbreak became a distant memory, the interest in Hep A vaccination waned as well.

  • I think this isn’t a bad idea…to keep people safe!

  • Baxter

    Of course food handlers in commercial settings should receive Hepatitis A vaccinations PRIOR to handling food, however, the problem needs to be addressed by State lawmakers. Restaurants frequently use day labor for food preparation and general kitchen work, without regard for health implications. Health Departments must require proof of vaccination to hire anyone in food service if change is to occur.