Seriously, offer to vaccinate your employees.

According to press reports, a Red Lobster at 10500 East Ulmerton Road in Largo had an employee test positive for hepatitis A last week.

On Tuesday, July 30, the Pinellas County Health Department and the Division of Hotels and Restaurants conducted a joint inspection after they received confirmation of that hepatitis A case.

During that inspection, the state found almost 40 violations, which included employees not properly washing their hands.

Doctors say that’s how hepatitis A can be transferred from an infected person and into the food they’re prepping.

The state saw the wait staff handle dirty dishes and then serve fresh food without washing their hands.

An inspector also saw the cook switch from working with raw food to ready-to-eat food without washing his hands. Another employee touched ready-to-eat food with his bare hands, according to the inspection report.

Inspectors also observed potentially hazardous cold food held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit on the cook’s line.

They found pico de gallo at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, cut cabbage at 57 degrees, corn salsa at 52 degrees, chicken at 45 degrees, fish at 50 degrees, beef steak at 47 degrees, leafy greens at 50 degrees, cut tomato at 50 degrees and shredded cheese at 50 degrees.

Other high priority violations included raw tuna stored over cooked shrimp and tortillas, a cross contamination issue. And build-up of old food debris or dirt on oven mitts, soda lines under the coke machine, inside the walk-in freezer, on the menus, cutting board, iced tea dispenser, interior of the oven and on the walls.

Hepatitis A has become an epidemic in the Tampa Bay area and the state with more than 1,700 confirmed cases in Florida since January 2018.

The hepatitis A virus is spread when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food or drinks that have been contaminated with small undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.

Pinellas County Health Department is offering hepatitis A vaccines to the public at no cost at several vaccine centers.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, who required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.