23,638 with Hepatitis A, with 14,079 hospitalized with 233 deaths.
Over a week ago I made this offer and my phone still has not rung – despite seeing several more restaurant chains such as Red Lobster and McDonald’s exposing their customers to Hepatitis A infectious employees. The CDC also updated its numbers of dead linked to the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak. In my view it is immoral to expose your customers to a know safety risk that is completely preventible.
In 2000, I wrote this:
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.”
Hardly a week goes by that there is not yet another announcement of a hepatitis A positive employee putting co-workers, customers and the restaurant brand at risk. There have been illnesses, deaths, thousands of customers have had to stand in long lines to get preventative vaccines, some restaurants have shuttered and there certainly have been lawsuits.
All preventable by a hepatitis A vaccination – the only foodborne illness that is vaccine preventable.
So, here is my offer – to the first restaurant chain with more that 250 locations (corporate and/or franchise) that will offer hepatitis A vaccinations to all present and future employees and I will agree to consult with that restaurant chain for $1.00 and conflict Marler Clark from being on the opposite side of the courtroom.
This seems like an “offer you can’t refuse.”
Whether or not you take me up on my offer, consider offering to vaccinate your employees anyway – be a food safety leader. In addition to being the right thing to do during a nation-wide outbreak of hepatitis A, it is good for your employees, your customers, your brand – and, for taking money out of my pocket.
Since March 2017, CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) has been assisting multiple state and local health departments with hepatitis A outbreaks, spread through person-to-person contact. Here are the latest numbers: