If I were a food business owner I’d be worried about hepatitis A. Individuals can shed the virus without showing symptoms and even a Hep A positive handwashing superstar will result in lineups outside the business or at the health department while patrons get their post-exposure shots.
Authors of a 2000 Journal of Food Protection paper on the cost effectiveness of vaccinating food handlers arrived at the conclusion that the public health benefit of vaccinating for hep A doesn’t outweigh the costs – but doesn’t factor in all the bad publicity, hassle and incident management costs. The stuff that a Stroudsburg, PA Red Robin restaurant is going through right now.
According to the Pocono Record, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is looking into a Red Robin food handler who was recently diagnosed with hepatitis A.
“The Disease Prevention and Control Law prohibits us from providing further details as the investigation is ongoing at this time,” said Aimee Tysarczyk, press secretary/director of communications for the state Health Department.
“As the investigation continues and if any public health risks evolve, the department will provide additional information to ensure the safety and well-being of the public, as needed,” Tysarczyk said.
In a statement to the Pocono Record, Red Robin said:
“On May 5, 2014, Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that an employee at the Red Robin restaurant in Stroudsburg, Pa., had contracted Hepatitis A.
“The employee has not been in the restaurant since April 27, 2014, and will not return to work until he has been granted medical clearance.
The welfare of our guests and team members is Red Robin’s top priority.
“We are working closely with the health department to go beyond what is required.
With the last restaurant exposure listed as April 27 there isn’t a huge window to administer IgG shots.