November 24, 2003


OTTAWA, November 24, 2003 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency
and Health Canada are monitoring an investigation by the United States
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) into recent outbreaks of Hepatitis A in the U.S. associated with the
eating of raw or undercooked green onions (also known as scallions)
imported to the U.S. from Mexico.
The outbreaks occurred in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia and
there are cases reported in Pennsylvania. There are no reported cases in
Canada and Health Canada has not detected an increase in the incidence
of Hepatitis A to-date.
If there is any evidence that contaminated green onions or any other
suspected foods are entering Canada, the appropriate regulatory action will
be taken immediately to minimize the risk of exposure to Canadians.
As a precaution, until further notice, consumers are advised to thoroughly
cook green onions to minimize the risk of illness by reducing or eliminating
the virus. Steaming, boiling, or sauteing the green onions for at least two
minutes should be sufficient to deliver the temperature and time of exposure
needed to inactivate the virus.
Consumers are reminded to maintain good hygienic practices by thoroughly
washing fresh fruits and vegetables before consumption. They should also
wash their hands and utensils such as knives and cutting boards before
preparing meals and after any contact with raw foods including green onions.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease, that develops in people within six weeks of
exposure to the virus. Symptoms may include jaundice (yellow discolouration
of the skin), fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and
fever. It can occasionally be severe, especially in people with liver problems
or disease.
Consumers who experience similar symptoms should consult their health care
For information:
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media Relations
(613) 228-6682
René Cardinal
(613) 295-8909
Health Canada
Media Relations
Margot Geduld/Carole Saindon
(613) 957-1588

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Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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