Corporate Flight Attendant Community
The Web's Top Resource Center For Business Flight Attendants
E. coli 0157:H7
Poison From The Sea
On The Light Side
Food Galley Safety
Food Safety Savvy: Hepatitis A
Your Food Safety Connection
Hepatitis A is a disease that most people have heard of, but really know very little about. In fact, the average person does not know if Hepatitis A is a bacteria, virus, parasite, or combined pathogens that lead to severe illness in human beings. No more doubt, Hepatitis A is a virus!
A virus relies on a living cell to
reproduce, but unlike bacteria, viruses cannot reproduce in food. Even though
viruses cannot reproduce in food, some viruses can remain dormant in food and
even survive freezing and cooking of the food. Once a human has eaten the food,
the dormant viruses then have live tissues inside the human body, which help
them to reproduce. The Hepatitis A virus is very slow growing, and the
incubation period of the virus can take from 10 to 50-days, but the average time
is approximately 30-days.
Ready to eat foods usually
involved in Hepatitis A outbreaks are: water and ice, shellfish, salads, deli
meats and sandwiches, fruits and juices, dairy products, vegetables, and any
food that will receive no further heat treatment.
Produce used for salads, lettuce,
spinach, etc.; grow low to the ground where they are more likely to be exposed
to contaminated, organic fertilizers, such as manure. In addition, produce is
often irrigated with contaminated waters or picked by farm workers with poor
hygiene practices. There is no heating step in salad ingredients that would
inactive a virus, regardless of how many times catering employees might wash
produce for salads.
As the Flight Attendants readers can imagine from the information presented so
far, Hepatitis A can come from many different sources, and there is only one
safe way to protect your self. Hepatitis A is the most common
vaccine-preventable disease in the United States. All County Health Departments
throughout the United States offer Hepatitis A vaccines, and these vaccines are
your key to protection. The Hepatitis A vaccines are given in shot form in two
doses, and the vaccines are usually spaced 6-12 months apart. The first dose of
Hepatitis A vaccine can be assumed to protect a person within 4-weeks after
injection. Completion of the vaccine series, according to schedule, is necessary
for long-term protection. The cost for each dose of Hepatitis A vaccine
administered through a public County Health Dept. is about $85. Once the two
vaccine doses have been taken, the immunity is life long.
Jean Dible is president and founder of GA Food Safety Professionals, a mobile food & alcohol safety training school in Atlanta, GA. Jean is a contributing writer to the Corporate Flight Attendant Community website; her Your Food Safety Connection column will appear on a bi-monthly basis.