23,638 with Hepatitis A, with 14,079 hospitalized with 233 deaths.
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. 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.”
All preventable by a hepatitis A vaccination – the only foodborne illness that is vaccine preventable. Here are a few examples of cases involving ill workers and the impact on customers and restaurants.
In 2017 Bartaco in New York at least 5 people sickened with Hepatitis A many of who were hospitalized with hundreds of thousands in medical bills and wage loss.
McDonalds in Skagit County in 1998 was implicated in a cluster of Hepatitis A illnesses linked to an exposure by a Hepatitis A positive assistant manager.
In 1999 nearly 40 became ill after being exposed to a Hepatitis A positive working at two Subway locations in the Seattle area. Several of the patrons were hospitalized with one young boy suffering acute liver failure requiring a liver transplant.
A Carls Jr. was hit in Spokane in 2000 with a Hepatitis A cluster that sickened over a dozen after being exposed to an ill worker.
In 2001 a Massachusetts D’Angelo’s Hepatitis A ill employee was linked to several customers who became ill after being exposed to contaminated food served at the restaurant.
A Hepatitis A positive employee at Maple Lawn Dairy in New York exposed at least six customers in 2004, including one patron who suffered acute liver failure and died.
In July and August of 2009, public health officials in the Quad-City region of Illinois identified at least 32 confirmed cases of hepatitis A among residents of Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Warren, and Woodford Counties. People became ill after eating food purchased from the Milan McDonald’s restaurant and then developing a Hepatitis A infection.