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DOUBLE BREAKING: Hep A Scare Closes Ssam Bar

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A tipster reports and a call to the restaurant confirms that Momofuku Ssam Bar and Momofuku Milk Bar were closed yesterday and will remain closed until 5 p.m. today due to a confirmed case of Hepatitis A. We await the official press release from the restaurant and further information from the Department of Health, but reps tell us that they closed the restaurant and have been working to get every single employee tested and vaccinated after a worker came back from the hospital with a positive case.

They tell us that although it is DOH policy to wait a week to take any action, the restaurant wanted to make sure all possible steps were taken. Once every employee is vaccinated, whether they contracted the virus or not, they've been told it will be safe to reopen the restaurant tonight. And, if no one else on the 60-person staff tests positive, it's likely that no one at Ssam was at risk.

However, and this is a big however, Hep A is transferable (though non-fatal), and the small risk remains that previous customers could have contracted the virus during this worker's incubation period. Team Momo has sent the worker's schedule to the DOH, which will decide determine who, if anyone, was at risk, how to make the info available to the public, and if need be, whether or not to give out vaccinations (as they did with the Socialista scare). For more info on Hep A, the CDC's fact sheet.
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· All Momofuku Coverage [~E~]
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UPDATE: The full press release from David Chang:

"New York City - June 9, 2009 ?Momofuku Ssäm Bar has confirmed that a newly hired employee tested positive for the hepatitis A virus. In response, we immediately notified the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and began preemptively testing and vaccinating our staff.

Pending testing results and further analysis, The New York City Department of Health has not required or requested that we close the restaurant or notify our customers. Though there is a low risk of outbreak, all staff members have been vaccinated as a precautionary measure.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspected the restaurant yesterday and noted 0 violation points. We will be open for dinner service tonight.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will make a press release available this afternoon."

UPDATE No. 2: The Health Dept.'s official release:

The Health Department investigates all cases of Hepatitis A in New York City. Of the 120-150 cases confirmed annually by the Department, fewer than 10 occur in foodservice workers and the Health Department sends an inspector to the site to evaluate whether there is a risk to patrons.

The Department was notified of this case on June 8, began the investigation, and inspected the bar the same night. The inspector found no health code violations. Violations that may compromise hand washing and hygiene are of particular interest when there is a Hepatitis A case involved.

The Health Department is continuing its investigation and the restaurant is cooperating.

For more information on Hepatitis A, please see the Health Department’s fact sheet at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cdhepa.shtml"

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

207 2nd Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10003 (212) 254-3500 Visit Website

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