Last night the Camden County New Jersey Health Department reported that it had been notified by a health care provider that a food handler employed at a Starbucks at 1490 Blackwood Clementon Road in Gloucester Township tested positive for hepatitis A and worked through the infectious period. On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the Department of Health was notified that a patient tested positive for hepatitis A and an investigation was instantly commissioned. Based on the investigation and out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Health recommends any member of the public that patronized the Starbucks facility on Nov. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 to get the hepatitis A vaccine.
Based on this exposure, the Department of Health will set up a hepatitis A vaccine clinic to administer shots for patrons starting tomorrow at the Camden County Sustainable Facility at 508 Lakeland Road. Tomorrow’s clinic will operate from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Vaccine appointments will be made on a first come first serve basis.
It was reported today that as many as 4,000 customers may have been exposed.
In 2000, I wrote this:
In light of the recent, large-scale Hepatitis A exposure in the San Francisco Bay Area, food safety attorneys of the Seattle-based law firm of Marler Clark, are asking restaurants and food manufacturers to voluntarily vaccinate all workers against Hepatitis A. “In the last six months Hepatitis A exposures have been linked to two Seattle-area Subways, a Carl’s Jr. in Spokane, WA, Hoggsbreath, a Minnesota restaurant, and three restaurants in Northwest Arkansas, IHOP, U.S. Pizza, and Belvedeers. Now more than seven- hundred children are being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus in California after possible consumption of contaminated strawberries. Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that strawberries have been implicated in the outbreak of a foodborne disease.” Marler continued, “Restaurants and food manufacturers must take action and voluntarily vaccinate all of their employees.”
Hardly a week goes by that there is not yet another announcement of a hepatitis A positive employee putting co-workers, customers and the restaurant brand at risk. There have been illnesses, deaths, thousands of customers have had to stand in long lines to get preventative vaccines, some restaurants have shuttered and there certainly have been lawsuits. Over that last decades restaurants and insurance companies have paid 10’s of millions of dollars to Marler Clark clients.
In Roanoke, Virginia a month ago, 1 hepatitis A ill employee at Famous Anthony’s restaurant transmitted this human fecal virus that has sickened at least 52, hospitalizing 37, including 1 liver transplant and 3 deaths.
All preventable by a hepatitis A vaccination – the only foodborne illness that is vaccine preventable.
So, here is my offer Starbucks – offer hepatitis A vaccinations to all present and future employees and I will agree to consult with you for $1.00 and conflict Marler Clark from being on the opposite side of the courtroom – forever!
This seems like an “offer you can’t refuse.”
Whether or not you take me up on my offer, consider offering to vaccinate your employees anyway – be a food safety leader. In addition to being the right thing to do, it is good for your employees, your customers, your brand – and, for taking money out of my pocket.
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces or stool of an infected person. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A can include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movement
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
Symptoms of the disease surface two to four weeks after exposure, although they can in some instances occur two to seven weeks after exposure. Children under six years of age with hepatitis A often do not have or show few signs and symptoms.
Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.