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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Hepatitis A in Green Onions – Its Impact on One Man

In late October 2003, Beaver County ER doctors reported an alarming number of Hepatitis A cases. Investigators from the Pennsylvania Department of Health initiated an investigation immediately and discovered that many, if not all, cases had eaten at Chi Chi’s restaurant in Monaca, Pennsylvania’s Beaver Valley Mall. Along with the health department, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted further studies of the outbreak. Preliminary analysis of a case-control study suggested that green onions were the probable source of the outbreak. The onions had been shipped to the restaurant in boxes and were stored and refrigerated in buckets of ice. They were eventually chopped up and served in various dishes at the restaurant, often uncooked, as in the preparation of mild salsa. “Preliminary trace-back information indicated that the green onions supplied to Chi Chi’s had been grown in Mexico.” Ultimately, over 650 people were sickened in the outbreak. The victims included at least thirteen Chi Chi’s employees and numerous residents of six other states. Four people died from their injuries, and more than 9,000 people obtained immune globulin shots as protection against the virus. This is the story of one of those cases (click below to see short quicktime video):