It's not news that would enhance the image of any chain, much less one that prides itself on natural, nutritious drinks. Smoothie king Jamba (NASDAQ:JMBA) issued a statement last night warning that one of its employees has been diagnosed with hepatitis A.

It may be the mildest form of the scary liver disease, but it's also contagious if proper sanitary practices aren't followed. Casual contact doesn't spread the virus, but because it can be spread through fecal-oral transmission, you definitely want the one who handles your food to obey that "please wash your hands" sign in the employee bathroom.

No one has yet reported catching the disease from the afflicted employee. However, it's an image that Jamba will have to erase from the minds of patrons who woke up to the news this morning. After all, this is Jamba Juice. Employees busily toss chopped fruits into blenders, scoop out powdery boosts, and typically unwrap and insert the straw for you. None of this is a problem -- as long as they don't have fecal matter on their hands.

Ewww? You bet.

Thankfully, Jamba is being proactive in tackling this sticky situation. It thoroughly cleaned the employee's store in Willow Glen, Calif., tossing out all open products. It replaced the entire staff with workers from nearby stores until the affected employee's coworkers get vaccinated and come up clean for hepatitis A. The employee will also be invited back to work, but only after she has successfully completed the Department of Health's treatment regimen.

Concerned patrons may also qualify to be reimbursed for diagnosis and treatment costs. Short of providing free boosts of immune globulin (that's a joke for the CDC geek crowd), it's hard to fault Jamba here.

These things happen. And chains bounce back. It's hard to fathom what Jack in the Box (NYSE:JBX) went through in 1993 when an E. coli outbreak in its burgers resulted in four fatalities. It eventually battled its way back into consumer acceptance. From Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) Odwalla (before it was owned by Coke) to Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Tylenol, tainted juice and tampered-with painkillers sting in the near-term, but quality companies overcome. Even Wendy's (NYSE:WEN) suffered with the chili finger two years ago, bouncing back even before it was exposed as a fraud.     

A real concern here is whether Jamba is a quality company. Recent financials may not bear that out, although at least it's doing its best to keep favorable public opinion. As fate would have it, the company reports its quarterly earnings next week, giving analysts a chance to dig into this matter deeper in terms of store trends and consumer reaction.

We'll see if that's enough to give the shares a free boost.

Former odes to Jamba and other earthy drinks:

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz often makes the 10-minute trek to a Jamba Juice. He does own shares in Jamba. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy that comes with a free immunity boost.