Is no food safe? This week at least 168 people were stricken with Hepatits A and dozens were hospitalized after eating at a chain of sushi restaurants. Health officials attributed the outbreak in Hawaii to frozen scallops that were served raw at several restaurant locations, ABC reports.
"We will work with the DOH to meet their requirements to re-open our restaurants as soon as possible," read a note from the company’s CAO Mary Hansen that was posted on the chain’s website.
An embargo was also placed on the imported frozen scallops distributed by Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods, though none of the shipments from True World Foods were identified as sources of the outbreak, according the health department’s report.
Hepatitis A is a contagious infection in the liver and is often transmitted through contaminated food. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, and vomiting, among others, and can appear anywhere from two to six weeks after someone is exposed to the virus. There are vaccinations for Hepatitis A, and the Centers for Disease Control recommends that any diners who experience symptoms consult their doctor or the health department.
Hawaii’s health department first announced the outbreak on July 1 and called in the CDC to help investigate the cause, Hawaii News Now reports.
Hepatitis A scares happen at restaurants from time to time. The last one of this magnitude occurred two years ago in Colorado when an employee exposed hundreds of diners to the virus. Officials and the general public have long demanded that food service workers be vaccinated to prevent accidental exposures such as this one, but implementation remains costly and legislation slow.