Hepatitis A was in Green Onions (cont.)
The Food and Drug Administration is reaffirming that several recent Hepatitis A virus outbreaks have been associated with eating raw or undercooked green onions (scallions). Investigations by state and local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and FDA have determined that the outbreaks were caused by green onions traced to Mexico for the three outbreaks with completed traceback investigations. It is important to remember that Hepatitis A Virus is transmitted by fecal-oral route. Produce can become contaminated when a person who has Hepatitis A or whose hands are contaminated with Hepatitis A virus comes into contact with the product or by exposure of the product to water contaminated with Hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis A outbreaks associated with raw or undercooked green onions served in restaurants occurred in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia in September and in Pennsylvania in late October through early November. The source of the green onions in the outbreaks has been traced to Mexico for the Tennessee, Georgia and Pennsylvania outbreaks. The source of the onions in the North Carolina outbreak is still being determined. The exact source of the contamination has not been established in any of these outbreaks. FDA is continuing to investigate in both the U.S. and Mexico and has been in consultation with Mexican authorities to obtain their assistance in assessing the situation.
A team of investigators from FDA and CDC spent the first week of December in Mexico working with Mexican officials to visit the four firms and associated facilities identified in the FDA traceback investigations. Preliminary findings from the FDA team include the following points: