Some details from a Kentucky candy maker and the Food and Drug Administration don’t quite match up, but the federal agency and the operator of Bauer’s Candies agree there is a chance some of the company’s products are contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.
As of 11:30 p.m. EST Dec. 6, the FDA had not posted a recall notice from the company.
Anna Bauer, owner and president of the multi-generation family business, said Thursday evening that she had contacted the FDA regarding corrections to the public alert the agency posted earlier in the day. The FDA alert advised consumers and businesses to throw away any Bauer’s Candies chocolate or caramel Modjeskas, purchased after Nov. 14 because a worker at the production facility had tested positive for the highly contagious liver virus.
“These products are available at retail locations and can also be purchased through QVC and BauersCandy.com. We are currently working with Bauer’s Candies, located in Kentucky, on a voluntary recall of affected products,” the FDA alert says. “This posting will be updated with recall and retail information as it becomes available.”
However, the company owner told Food Safety News only Modjeskas purchased from Nov. 16-23 are implicated. She said it was fortunate the issue was discovered Thinskgiving week because it was a low production and shipping week.
The timing is crucial because of the nature of the hepatitis A virus and post-exposure treatment. Most young children have been routinely been vaccinated against the potentially fatal liver virus in recent years. But most adults have not been vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is a narrow two-week window of opportunity after exposure for people to receive after-the-fact treatment in the form of the hepatitis A vaccine or immunoglobulin.
“Although the risk of hepatitis A transmission from the candy is low, FDA recommends that consumers who ate candies purchased after November 14, 2018 and have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A consult with their healthcare professional to determine whether post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is indicated,” according to the FDA public alert.
As of the posting of the alert, neither the FDA nor the CDC had received any reports of confirmed hepatitis A infections related to consumption of the Brauer’s candy. However, it can take up to 50 days after exposure for symptoms to develop, so anyone who ate any of the implicated candy should monitor themselves in the coming two months for symptoms.
When symptoms occur, they can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from an infected person.m This can happen when an infected person prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene, even before that person shows symptoms of illness.
People infected with hepatitis A virus may have symptoms that can include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes — known as jaundice — dark urine, and pale stool. Young children may not show symptoms of HAV infection
“The FDA is recommending that anyone who ate Bauer’s Candies Chocolate or Caramel Modjeskas purchased after Nov. 14, 2018, consult with their healthcare provider to determine whether PEP is indicated. Consumers and retailers should throw away and not consume any chocolate or caramel Modjeskas purchased after Nov. 14,” according to the government’s alert.
Bauer said the infected employee was hired Nov. 16 from a local temp agency and had been vaccinated for hepatitis A two weeks earlier. She said when state health officials notified her that the employee was ill, she voluntarily shut down operations, discarded any candy that was left, and sanitized the building “using FDA Protocol.”
“We closed and cleaned voluntarily and reopened the next day. Kentucky Food Safety Branch was in the building that day as well and we were good to go,” Bauer told Food Safety News.
“All candy produced after those dates (Nov. 16-23) are not affected to any exposure. I have already been in contact with the customers that received candy during that time with instructions on replacement of candy or credits.”
Bauer said the implicated candy does not have any product codes or other label information, other than the name, that consumers can use to determin whether they have possession of the products.
“We are a fresh made candy company and keep internal lot numbers for days of production. If anyone has any concerns at all, they can call the office, 502-839-3700 or email me directly at, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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