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Often Off The Radar: Hepatitis A and Food Safety

When it comes to food illness, such names as Listeria, E.coli, etc. might be familiar. A name that may be more of a surprise to some is “Hepatitis.” More specifically, Hepatitis A appeared in some disconcerting recent headlines involving a New York City tapas restaurant. Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, “You’re most likely to contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or from close contact with someone who’s already infected.” The virus can be passed on via small traces of fecal material being orally ingested.

This appears to have been the cause for concern in NYC. An employee, having returned from a trip to Mexico, may have exposed several hundred people to the virus, via handling desserts at the restaurant. Customers that ate at the restaurant within this certain time period are being encouraged to get vaccinated for safe measure.

handwashingEven if Hepatitis A might not be a commonly focused-upon food-safety related virus in the media and amongst consumers,  it does share a very common method of prevention with many other food illnesses: hand-washing. This simple measure can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A in the food industry and elsewhere.

Even if mild cases of the virus generally do not create any “permanent liver damage,” you can be sure seeing the word “Hepatitis” connected to the food supply can be quite shocking to the average American consumer. Informing employees and making sure your entire operation is informed and trained in proper hand-washing techniques can help prevent this virus and a whole host of others.

To check out some helpful resources to assist in implementing an effective hygiene program, check out this free FDA resource.

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