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US: Restaurants investigated over potentially contaminated strawberries

Two Porter County restaurants were investigated last week at the behest of the Indiana State Department of Health over concerns about frozen strawberries that could have been contaminated with hepatitis A, but both were clear, according to a Porter County Health Department official.

The Chicago Tribune reports that two county health officials reached out to the restaurants last week "because of a specific lot (of strawberries) from a specific supplier," said Bob Tarnow, a field inspector and food sanitarian with the county department.

"We found they did not have product from that lot and reported back" to the state health department, he said.

Health officials in Marion, Hamilton and Hendricks counties have confirmed that strawberries from Egypt were distributed to local restaurants; additional counties could be identified as the investigation continues. To date, there hasn't been any confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to frozen strawberries in Northwest Indiana, Matt Scotten, ISDH's Deputy Director of Public Affairs, said.

According to a release, the state health department is urging healthcare providers to ask patients who exhibit symptoms of hepatitis A about recent strawberry consumption as part of an investigation into a multistate outbreak of the disease that has been linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt and food items containing the berries.

Gordon Food Service, with locations in Merrillville and Michigan City, is unaffected by the tainted strawberries, according to a spokeswoman for the company, which is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The state health department is working with local health departments to determine where and when the potentially contaminated strawberries were served in Indiana. To date, health officials in Marion, Hamilton and Hendricks counties have confirmed that the recalled strawberries were distributed to local restaurants; additional counties could be identified as the investigation continues.


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