Image copyright QSR Inc Image caption The company is recalling four cardboard cartons, each with six servings of caramel, strawberry or vanilla yogurt cups, on behalf of two stores in Canada
A Starbucks coffee drink cup with hepatitis A in it has prompted a recall and food poisoning scare in Canada.
Some stores in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were closed after 20 of 32 customers tested positive for the virus.
But health officials say the outbreak was primarily driven by people coming into contact with the cup in restaurants.
UK authorities say customers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease. Symptoms include fever, nausea, diarrhoea and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Dr Robert Strang, deputy medical health officer for the Fraser Health Authority, said the company was recalling four cardboard cartons, each with six servings of caramel, strawberry or vanilla yogurt cups, on behalf of two stores in Canada.
Image copyright QSR Inc Image caption Health officials say the outbreak was primarily driven by people coming into contact with the cup in restaurants
Most of the samples tested positive for hepatitis A, which could have developed over a period of about five weeks, he said.
However, Dr Strang warned that the circumstances of the outbreak and the individual case “can vary considerably”, and it was possible that other people would have contracted the infection without knowing it.
He advised people who had consumed the recalled product to take precautions and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the toilet, using the car wash, kissing or socialising with others.
He said people who develop symptoms should seek medical attention.
Symptoms can develop between two and six weeks after exposure to the virus, and “severe cases may require hospitalisation”, the spokesman for the B.C Centre for Disease Control said.
But if those symptoms do not surface, it may “look as though the infection has not occurred”.
According to the chain’s website, “suspicious” customers reported feeling sick after drinking the drink and were offered free cups of coffee.
“Starbucks Canada regrets to inform you that we have temporarily temporarily suspended the products supplied by our supplier affected by this issue.
“We will notify our customers of this temporary suspension when we are in a position to do so.”
Starbucks said that none of the two affected stores had reported any symptoms or illnesses so far, but that it was advising all of its 167 Canadian locations to use the products supplied by the supplier and remove them from their shelves.
It added that it would be working with health officials in those regions to “ensure our stores are safe”.
“Starbucks takes the health and safety of our customers and employees extremely seriously and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” the company said.