FDA Issues Statement on Green Onion-Associated Hepatitis A

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that raw or lightly cooked green onions were associated with the hepatitis A illnesses in Pennsylvania.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working cooperatively with the CDC and state governments to actively investigate the outbreaks in an attempt to determine the source of the green onions associated with the outbreaks and how they became contaminated, so that corrective action can be taken.

In response to these investigations, FDA has taken the following action:

-- FDA has alerted inspectors at the border to detain any raw green onions (scallions) from a small number of implicated firms in Mexico associated with hepatitis A illnesses in Tennessee, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Mexican officials have been very responsive during the outbreak investigation and are investigating practices at these firms to determine what might have contributed to the contamination at the source.

The implicated firms ship green onions under the following names:

Dos M Sales D Mexico

Mexicali, Baja California MX

2 M Sale De Mexico, Sa De Cv

San Luis, Rio Colorado MX

Agricola La Laguna, S.A. De C.V. (a.k.a. Sun Fresh)

Ensenanda, Baja California MX

Tecnoagro Intenrnacional, S.A. De C.V.

San Luis, Rio Colorado MX

Tecno Agro Internacional S.A

Ensenada MX

Agro Industrias Vigor

Tijuana, Baja California MX

Agro Industrias Vigor

Ojos Negros, Baja California MX

Agro Industrias Vigor

Sam Quintin, Baja California MX

-- FDA continues to conduct tracebacks of raw green onions (scallions) that have been involved in foodborne outbreaks in North Carolina last September.

-- The FDA has discussed its actions with the restaurant and produce industry so that they can take appropriate measures to ensure public health.

The FDA provides the following advice to consumers:

-- Cook green onions thoroughly, such as in a casserole. This minimizes the risk of illness by reducing or eliminating the virus.

-- Substitute other types of onions in your recipe.

-- Check food purchased at restaurants and delicatessens and ask whether menu items contain raw or lightly cooked green onions. Consumers who wish to avoid food that contains raw or lightly cooked green onions should specifically request that raw or lightly cooked green onions not be added to their food. Foods such as freshly prepared salsa and green salads often contain raw green onions.

The regulations that FDA is developing in accordance with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, provide FDA with new authority to help improve our ability to contain and prevent outbreaks. These new regulations plus our increased presence at the border represent a significant enhancement of our safety and security activities.

The FDA will take further action as needed and provide additional information as it becomes available.

Source: FDA

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