Illnesses linked to restaurant/deli foods

The death toll in Michigan stands at 25 as a result of an outbreak of illness linked to Hepatitis A. There have been at least 750 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Michigan, with more than 80% of ill individuals hospitalized. The outbreak, which includes cases in California, Michigan, Kentucky, Utah, Nevada, New York, Arkansas and Oregon, has sickened more than 1,600 people and killed at least 46. At least some of the cases in Michigan are linked to a Red Lobster restaurant were a worker tested positive for the disease.

Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. The virus is shed in feces and is most commonly spread from person to person by unclean hands contaminated with microscopic amounts feces. Symptoms of infection may include sudden abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dark urine, and/or vomiting often followed by yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Symptoms may appear from 14 to 50 days after exposure, but usually develop about one month after exposure to the virus, according to public health officials. Some people who are infected do not become sick, but they are contagious.

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable viral disease. The best way to prevent hepatitis A infection is to get vaccinated. Some restaurants and retail establishments require workers to be vaccinated. More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And health officials have identified almost 100 people sick in Iowa and at least one in Minnesota in a multi-state Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken salad sold at grocery deli counters.  Product sold at a regional grocery store chain, Fareway Stores Inc., is linked to the outbreak.

Chicken salad is a ready-to-eat product, and any Salmonella bacteria not killed during cooking to prepare the chicken, or introduced via cross-contamination, could survive in the product, even under refrigeration.

For additional information on each of these outbreaks, see Food Safety News.

Stay food safe! Barb