October 2, 2023

Burma Superstar Scored Well on Inspections Before E. coli Outbreak

The Burma Superstar restaurant in San Francisco that is at the center of a city and state E. coli investigation has had a history of mostly low-risk food safety violations, according to a review of health department inspection documents by Food Poisoning Bulletin. One person has been hospitalized in the outbreak for a life-threatening case of HUS kidney failure and a total of 14 ill people are considered case patients. Food poisoning investigators for the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health are trying to pinpoint the cause, but nine of the outbreak victims reportedly ate at Burma Superstar in mid-August before falling ill.

Fancy Restaurant Table Setting

The City and County of San Francisco’s  Environmental Health inspection findings show only one high-risk violation — “improper cooling methods” — a condition that was cited during a June 27, 2011, visit. It was corrected by the time an inspection team returned for a follow-up exam on July 7, 2011. At the same time, the health department cleared the restaurant of a moderate-risk violation related to holding food at improper temperatures.

The most recent city inspection of the popular Inner Richmond neighborhood restaurant showed four violations, three described as “Low Risk” and one described as “Moderate Risk.” That inspection — conducted on Valentine’s Day, 2013, — described the moderate-risk condition as “inadequately cleaned or sanitized food contact surfaces.” The overall score on that inspection was 90 percent. Two previous inspections of the restaurant indicated “low-risk vermin infestation,” but the Valentine’s Day inspection did not find a vermin problem.

The city and county records indicate that Burma Superstar, located at 309 Clement St., is the holder of a “symbol of excellence” designation under the San Francisco Health Code. The symbol recognizes the food preparation and service food establishments that exemplify high standards of food safety. The 2004 ordinance that created the symbol was designed to create strong incentives for food safety, according to a summary of the law. The ordinance states that the symbol is issued only to establishments that receive three successive scores of ninety (90) percent or higher with no major violations as set forth in the food inspection report.

Burma Superstar has been closed for the Labor Day weekend as surveillance of the E. coli outbreak continues. The owner has told local reporters that he will reopen the restaurant early next week.

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