At least 28 people are infected with hepatitis A which authorities say came from tainted strawberries served at Tropical Smoothie restaurant locations throughout Virginia.
The Virginian Pilot reports that strawberries imported from Egypt used in various Tropical Smoothie Café locations are suspected as the source of the outbreak. As of today, there have been eight cases reported in the eastern region, 10 cases in the north region, and five each in the central and northwest regions of the state.
Last Friday, the Virginia Department of Health issued an alert to any customer that had visited any Tropical Smoothie Cafes within the previous 50 days to watch for symptoms. The tainted strawberries were removed from the restaurants between August 6th and 8th.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection, which affects the liver. Although it is preventable by vaccine, many adults have not been vaccinated. Hepatitis A is rarely fatal, however, it is highly contagious and can cause liver damage in some circumstances. Symptoms typically include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and fever.
People infected with hepatitis A in this recent outbreak from Egyptian strawberries may wonder if they have the ability to make a claim against either the restaurant of the supplier of the strawberries. In Virginia, the Uniform Commercial Code, which is incorporated into the code of Virginia, establishes an implied warranty for serving unwholesome food. What this means is that any food item you purchase comes with a warranty from the seller and/or the manufacturer that the food item is safe to consume.
This does not mean that the food sellers or distributors are strictly liable, but they are in the best position to prevent outbreaks of disease, or otherwise contaminated food. Further development of the facts of this situation will be necessary in order to evaluate liability.
For anyone who suspects that an item they have eaten may have been contaminated or caused food poisoning, there are certain crucial steps they should take, including:
- Save the food (or foreign object) if it has not been discarded. It is also a good idea to freeze the item;
- Notify the establishment where you purchased the product to let them know;
- Notify the Health Department. Your case of food poisoning or contaminated food may actually be an outbreak;
- Document in a journal everything you had to eat and drink in the days leading up to your becoming ill, as well as when the first onset of symptoms appeared; and
- Seek medical attention.
If you have been a victim of contaminated food or food poisoning, you should also contact a skilled Virginia food poisoning attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have against those responsible for your illness. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many clients who became seriously ill from contaminated food.