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FDA Looks Into Candy Plant After Worker’s Hep A Diagnosis

December 5, 2018

Health officials in Kentucky said Tuesday that an employee at a candy manufacturing plant tested positive for Hepatitis A late last month, sparking an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the state’s Department of Health. 

A worker at Bauer’s Candies in Lawrenceburg, KY was diagnosed on November 27 with the contagious blood borne disease, the Anderson County Health Department said in a release. The agency said an initial investigation determined that the company’s customers faced a low risk of becoming infected with Hepatitis A.    

“Bauer’s Candies has cooperated fully with this investigation and will continue to do so moving forward,” Anna Bauer, the firm’s owner, said in a statement posted to the Facebook page of the Anderson County Health Department. “Bauer’s Candies, in an effort to be proactive, made it mandatory since October, that all employees will have their Hepatitis A vaccination or they will be unable to work for Bauer’s.”

The report of the worker’s diagnosis comes as Kentucky faces a state-wide outbreak of Hepatitis A, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH). 

“The increase in cases observed in Kentucky was well over the 10-year average of reported Hepatitis A cases. Several cases have been infected with HAV strains genetically linked to outbreaks in California, Utah, and Michigan,” the Kentucky DPH wrote in a recent briefing. “Similar to Hepatitis A outbreaks in other states, the primary risk factors remain illicit drug use and homelessness. A contaminated food source has not yet been identified, and HAV transmission is believed to be occurring through person-to-person contact.”

Bauer Candies’ owner, Anna Bauer, told NBC News affiliate LEX 18 that the person who tested positive for the disease started work at the plant about a week ago. She told the broadcaster that the person was vaccinated for Hepatitis A prior to beginning his position.

Operations at the plant for half a day so that the company could clean the facility, Bauer said in Lex 18's coverage. The company pledged to replace or refund customers who bought products from Bauer’s Candies over Thanksgiving week. 

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