Severe stomach pains, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fevers, liver failure and death.
If you don’t want to experience any of these symptoms, then put down your fork and keep reading.
Last week, the FDA recalled three different lots of a common frozen food because it was contaminated with hepatitis A, which can cause all of the aforementioned symptoms.
But the truly nasty part is how this horrifying and sometimes deadly virus got into this food — human feces.
Yep. Other people’s poop is in your food, and it could make you very sick. More on how that happens in just a bit.
Skip the Scallops… and Strawberries
The food we’re talking about in this particular case is frozen scallops.
Fortunately, these scallops, produced by Sea Port Products Corp., weren’t sold to consumers. This means these diseased mollusks aren’t hanging out in your freezer.
But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the danger zone.
Fully 206 people have already become ill with hepatitis A from eating the contaminated scallops at a sushi restaurant. And it’s thought that all cases are in only in the state of Hawaii. However, the tainted scallops were also shipped to California and Nevada.
The FDA and Sea Port Products are working together to pull the contaminated lots off the shelves. The lot numbers are 5885, 5886 and 5887.
If you live in Hawaii, Nevada or California, you should ask restaurants where their scallops came from before eating them.
Though cutting scallops from your diet might not be the only change you need to make to avoid catching hepatitis A from your food.
This week, on the other side of the country, 23 cases of hepatitis A were linked to Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Virginia. The Virginia Health Department thinks the questionable strawberries are from Egypt. Tropical Smoothie’s CEO reports that all strawberries suspected to be contaminated were removed from the stores.
In both cases, it’s unclear where or how the contamination started. It’s possible that the food was grown in or harvested from areas contaminated with sewage. But it’s also possible that unsanitary working conditions, poor worker hygiene, or improper handling of the foods could’ve caused the contamination.
Hepatitis A symptoms may not occur for up to 50 days after initial contact. If you show any signs of hepatitis A illness, you should seek medical attention and avoid contact with others as much as possible. If you work in food service, you should not go to work.
And while there is no way to know what happened to your food before you purchase it, the spread of hepatitis A can be prevented by frequent handwashing with soap and water after using the restroom or changing diapers and prior to handling and preparing food.
In addition, be sure to thoroughly rinse produce before consuming and clean prep areas after use, especially if used for seafood, meat or poultry.
If you have questions about food safety, you can call the FDA information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily Insider