ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If you recently ate at Trip's Diner in St. Petersburg, you should know that one of its employees recently tested positive for Hepatitis A.
According to the Pinellas County Health Department, a worker employed at Trip's Diner located at 2339 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street North in St. Petersburg had a confirmed case of Hepatitis A on Thursday, October 17.
When inspectors went to the restaurant to follow up, the state found 28 violations, some very concerning regarding food safety.
The state saw an employee handle soiled dishes and then handled clean dishes without washing his hands; Another employee touch soiled surfaces and then engaged in food preparation without washing his hands; And another worker touched the trash can and then went onto handle bread.
According to the inspection report, the state discovered cold food held at greater than 41°F with liquid eggs at 70 to 80°F and ham at 52°F.
Hot food was also not 135°F or above with hollandaise sauce at 94°F and grits at 104°F.
Other food safety issues included raw shell eggs stored over ham with the raw eggs dripping into ham, a cross contamination issue. The inspector demanded the food to be thrown out.
Other violations included the dish machine chlorine sanitizer not at the proper minimum strength and had to discontinue use until it's repaired and sanitizing properly, there was no certified food manager on duty and an accumulation of black/green mold-like substance was seen inside the ice bin.
Trip's Diner released the following statement:
"Trip’s Diner has always complied with any Health Department directive. As part of our policy and training procedures, all staff that is any contact with food receives the Florida mandated food safety training course and certification. We are strict with basic procedures of glove use, hand washing, hats or hairnets etc.
Whenever a staff member does become ill, any possible communicable or infectious condition requires they not work until receiving full medical release. During our interaction with the Health Department all staff cooperated fully. The Health Department, based on their inspections and interviews determined that Trip’s Diner represented a negligible risk and no further action was taken by the Health Department.
Gordon Stevenson, Trip's Diner Owner"
Hepatitis A has become an epidemic in the Tampa Bay area and the state with more than 2,900 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. For more information on where you can get these free vaccines in Pinellas County, you can click here. Other Florida counties, including Hillsborough, also provide free or discounted hepatitis A vaccines. You can click here for more information.
For more information on hepatitis A and guidelines from the federal government, visit: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.