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Duke's Brewhouse employee in Hillsborough County tests positive for Hepatitis A

Posted: 9:37 PM, Aug 14, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-14 23:24:15-04
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Duke's Brewhouse is best known for its wings and beer but now, the state knows it for Hepatitis A.

During a recent joint inspection with the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, the Hillsborough County Health Department issued a warning after finding an employee who worked there had a confirmed case of Hepatitis A.

On Monday, August 5, the state performed that inspection at Duke's Plant City location at 2212 James. L Redman Parkway, after receiving news that a food worker had the contagious disease.

According to that inspection, the state found 15 violations, including hush puppy mix at 72 degrees after sitting out for two days, instead of 41 degrees or below.

Because of that hazardous temperature, inspectors made Duke's throw out the mix.

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Other food safety issues included raw eggs stored over cheese in the walk-in in cooler, which is a cross contamination issue.

There was an accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.

No certified food service manager was on duty and there was no proof of required state approved training for any employees.

Also, there were no paper towels or mechanical hand drying device provided at the handwashing sink.

Duke's Brewhouse released the following statement:

We were informed that an ex-employee had tested positive for Hepatitis A. We had a normal visit from the health department recently and were in full compliance with safety standards in all food categories and food handling.

We, as a company, have been extremely pro-active about the seriousness of this scare in the Tampa Bay area and have been giving out educational material to our staff for months and are having extra training sessions to ensure our staff is educated on the process of being extra safe. We also had a precautionary visit in regard to this ex-employee and the health department assured us that they do not feel we had anything to do with the cause and were in full compliance during both visits on hand washing and usage of gloves.

To make sure we are taking all measures, we fully sanitized our establishment and Duke’s Brewhouse feels positive that this was not an issue that originated at our location. We are also working with the health department currently on checking if any of our staff is currently and already vaccinated and if they are not, we will be offering it with the assistance of the health department.

Paul Ostendorf
Chief Operating Officer
Duke’s Brewhouse

Hepatitis A has become an epidemic in the Tampa Bay area and the state with more than 2,000 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.

RELATED: Health departments offering free hepatitis A vaccines on Saturday, August 17

For more information on hepatitis A and guidelines from the federal government, visit: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/index.htm.