July 20, 2017

The Porch Restaurant E. coli Outbreak Confirmed in Pittsburgh Area

The Porch Restaurant in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is at the center of an outbreak of  E. coli O157:H7 food poisoning still under investigation by public health officials in the Keystone State. Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said 12 people have been confirmed as case patients in the outbreak while nine others have had “suggestive symptoms” of toxic E. coli infections. Four of the first five known victims were hospitalized last month, when the outbreak was first detected. Hacker said four more restaurant customers were hospitalized, but that no further cases have been reported since the restaurant was approved to re-open on October 31.

Fancy Restaurant Table Setting

In a statement to reporters on Friday, Hacker said  investigators have been unable to pinpoint the source of the E. coli outbreak, but she noted an association with ground beef patties served at the restaurant.  “Most of the persons who got sick ate hamburgers, and laboratory tests for E. coli O157:H7 detected the bacteria on some samples of ground beef patties,” Hacker said. “However, it has not been determined whether the bacteria came into the facility on beef that the restaurant purchased or it spread via food handling.” The statement noted that restaurant employees were among those sickened in the outbreak.

E. coli attorney Fred Pritzker, whose Bad Bug Law Team is accepting cases on behalf of victims, said restaurants are responsible for illnesses caused by their food and can be sued for food poisoning outbreaks even when the exact origin of the contamination is not discovered. Various food critics have described The Porch at Schenley in Oakland as a popular bistro owned by the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group. Oakland is surrounded by the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Greenfield, Bloomfield, Hill District, and Bluff.

Allegheny County’s first public recognition of this outbreak occurred October 30, when the Health Department issued a statement saying the restaurant had voluntarily closed due to the reported illnesses and was approved to reopen. People who have developed E. coli symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, within days after eating at The Porch should seek immediate health care and have their doctor or attorney contact the Health Department at 412-687-2243.

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