KNOW YOUR ONIONS: They might cause hepatitis A

Last week, our health concerns were about airline travel and driving white cars (apparently you’re more likely to have a serious accident in one, in case you missed our previous fun- and fact-filled missive).

This week, our attentions turn to . . . green onions. Green onions served in a Mexican restaurant in Pennsylvania were responsible for causing 555 cases of hepatitis A. Three diners subsequently died.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated, but said that none of the restaurant staff was responsible for passing on the disease. By using deductive powers that would make Sherlock Holmes envious, the officials ruled out the red onions, used for the hot salsa, and zoned in on the green onions that were mixed in the mild salsa.

The restaurant seemed to take good care of the onions once they arrived – they were immediately refrigerated and kept in ice – so the problem was finally traced back to a farm in Mexico where the onions were grown.

The restaurant has been closed, which is presumably not the fate of the farm.

So let’s get this straight. To lead a long and healthy life, never drive a white car, don’t fly on planes, and never touch the mild salsa in Mexican restaurants. I really do think we’re getting somewhere.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 290: 3187-8).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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