Reuters Health Information (2003-11-17): FDA advises on hepatitis A precautions amid probe
FDA advises on hepatitis A precautions amid probe
Last Updated: 2003-11-17 14:34:07 -0400 (Reuters Health)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers may want to fully cook green onions as a precaution against hepatitis A, U.S. health officials said Saturday as they probed the cause of an outbreak that has struck more than 500 people in Pennsylvania.
Raw or lightly cooked green onions were linked to cases of the liver disease in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia in September, but the source of the Pennsylvania outbreak is still unknown, the Food and Drug Administration said.
As of Saturday, 510 cases of the illness had been confirmed in Pennsylvania, the state health department said on its Web site. On Friday state authorities said one person had died from the illness.
The FDA said it appeared "only a few shipments" of green onions were likely to have been contaminated with the hepatitis A virus.
The agency advised consumers worried about contracting the illness that they can minimize the risk by thoroughly cooking green onions by boiling or saut�ing them, or using them in foods that will be cooked, such as casseroles.
At restaurants and delicatessens, concerned consumers should ask if any foods are made with green onions. Salsa, green salads and tuna salad often contain green onions, the FDA said.
The green onions implicated in the Tennessee outbreak apparently came from Mexico, the FDA said. Investigators are working with Mexican officials and monitoring certain imports of green onions for evidence of contamination, the agency said.
The Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant chain pulled green onions off the menu at all of its more than 100 restaurants after employees and patrons of one of its locations in Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, became ill from hepatitis A.
Chi-Chi's, which is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, has said none of its other restaurants has been involved in the outbreak. The Beaver Valley location has been closed.