Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Hawaii Hepatitis A outbreak grows to almost 250 people

Additional victims of a Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported, frozen scallops served raw in Hawaii continue to be identified, with state officials reporting 241 people now confirmed with infections.

In the past week, 13 more people have been confirmed, according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s weekly update posted on Wednesday. Slightly more than one-fourth of the victims — 64 — have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization. Onset of the illnesses ranges from June 12 through Aug. 25.

Genki SushiThe post-exposure vaccination window of opportunity for people who were exposed to the virus at Genki Sushi restaurant locations has closed. Eleven of the fast food sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai were closed by the state and frozen scallops from the Philippines linked to the outbreak and served raw by the restaurants were embargoed on Aug. 15.

Post-exposure Hepatitis A vaccination is not effective unless it is given within two weeks of exposure, according to public health officials.

Sea Port Products Corp. imported the scallops from De Oro Resources Inc., which is located in Suba Basbas, Philippines. The importer sold the scallops to two distributors, Honolulu-based Koha Foods and True World Foods, which is based in Rockleigh, NJ, and has operations in Hawaii and two dozen other locations around the world.

None of the implicated scallops distributed to True World Foods made it out of the company’s warehouse in Hawaii, according to statements issued by the New Jersey company and Hawaii’s health department.

“The scallops received by True World Foods have not been distributed to any restaurants in the state and were embargoed at their warehouse,” according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s website.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating how the scallops may have become contaminated with the highly contagious Hepatitis A virus. True Worlds Foods officials said contamination likely occurred before either U.S. distributor received the scallops, “given that the product arrives in sealed packages that are case-packed in a freezer and receive no further processing at the distributor site.”

“Regardless of the source, the hepatitis A outbreak would not have occurred if the scallops had been cooked to a temperature of 185 F rather than served raw,” according to the statement issued by True World Foods, which sold 34 million pounds of seafood in 2015.

 For additional details about this outbreak, please see “228 Hepatitis A cases in Hawaii; lawsuit could include 10,000”

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

© Food Safety News