Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO apologizes over hepatitis A exposure

Posted at 8:46 PM, Aug 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 21:54:09-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe has apologized after a series of hepatitis A cases have been linked to strawberries used at locations across Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Health has reported 12 people in the Commonwealth have contracted hepatitis A, three of which are in Central Virginia.

They said the strawberries in question were imported from Egypt with the virus and served to customers between August 5 through August 8.

Officials said customers who consumed a smoothie made during those dates should contact the health department because they may still benefit from the vaccine.

Sunday, Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO Mike Rotondo, posted a video message on twitter apologizing to Virginia customers.

“I sincerely apologize for any issues that this may have caused for any of our customers,” he said.

He also outlined what the company did the moment they found out the strawberries were tainted.

“On August 5, the Virginia Department of Heath contacted us about a potential link between hepatitis A cases and frozen strawberries from Egypt.

He said the company voluntarily withdrew all of the strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply for all of their locations.

“We take this issue very seriously. Your health and your safety is our top priority. We want you to have confident that we source high quality products so that you’ll come back again and visit us very soon. Thank you.”

VDH officials says same batch of strawberries may have gone to other restaurants in the area, so people need to remain vigilant for symptoms of the disease.

Officials say classic symptoms of hepatitis A are fatigue, nausea, abdominal cramps and jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and eyes. Symptoms can develop 50 days after exposure.

People who have been vaccinated for hepatitis A are not at risk, officials said. Additionally, health experts stressed customers who consumed a smoothie after the strawberries were pulled from restaurants are not be at risk.

According to a company spokesperson, they have created a hotline for customers who are looking to get a vaccine and for those 12 customers infected with Hepatitis A.

The number to call is 855-292-4770. According to the spokesperson, they are unable to help those infected with Hepatitis A since they do not know who they are, HIPPA regulations will not release their names.