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Los Angeles schools were swept up in one of America's biggest food scares when frozen strawberries from Mexico, used in school meals, were linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A.

The Los Angeles Unified School District set up special vaccination centres after it concluded that at least 9,000 children had eaten the fruit. But its officials came under fire for keeping the news under wraps days after they identified 46 schools that had received the strawberry dessert.

Most teachers first learnt of the threat when the district's own television station broadcast an afternoon news conference. Parents flooded switchboards with worried calls, some rushed to get their children inoculated with gamma gobulin, and a few vowed never to let their children eat at school again.

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