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Green Onions Blamed in Outbreak

Health authorities have determined that green onions likely caused a recent outbreak of Hepatitis A in Pennsylvania that infected more than 500 people and killed three.//

Bill Zavertnik, Chi-Chi's chief operating officer, said in a statement that health officials confirmed that Chi-Chi's employees were not the source of the outbreak, that there was nothing they could have done to prevent the outbreak and that it was an isolated incident.

Hundreds of people fell ill with Hepatitis A after eating at Chi-Chi's Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania, restaurant.

"There is currently no industry-accepted means of testing produce for Hepatitis A virus. And there is no effective way to wash Hepatitis A off of green onions, as the public health authorities have confirmed," Zavertnik said.

The Centers for Disease Control said in a statement on its Web site http://www.cdc.gov that it and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have been investigating the outbreak and that the likely cause was raw or lightly cooked green onions.

Investigations to date, aimed at tracing the source of the contaminated vegetables, have found that the green onions came from one or more farms in Mexico, the statement said.


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