August 22, 2019

Federico’s E.coli Outbreak Sickened 94, 2 With HUS

Federico's-E.-coli-OutbreakAn E.coli outbreak linked to Federico’s Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield Park, AZ sickened 94 people in July and August, according to a report from the Maricopa County Public Health Department. (MCDPH).   The outbreak is one of the 10 largest E.coli outbreaks in he last 10 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At least 23 people were hospitalized, two of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS, a condition that develops in about 5 to 10 percent of E.coli cases, leads to kidney failure. Other complications form HUS include seizure, stroke and coma.

Those who became ill  ate at the restaurant between July 18 and July 31. Health officials were unable to identify the specific food source of the outbreak, but lettuce was “strongly suspected.” Other suspected foods that 95 percent of those sickened consumed were: cheese, tacos, salsa and water.

The report concludes that because other restaurants that received lettuce from the same supplier did not have illnesses, that Federico’s could have received a small batch of contaminated lettuce and improper washing contributed to the spread of bacteria. Contamination from a single ill employee was deemed unlikely given the number of those sickened, but MCDPH said cross contamination from another food such as beef was also a possibility.

Health officials gave Federico’s  recommendations to better handle and store lettuce and handwashing protocols to minimize E.coli contamination. The restaurant, which reopened August 5,  complied with all other recommendations made by health officials and performed an extensive cleaning of the entire facility before reopening.

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