June 18, 2024

Federico’s 2013 E. coli Outbreak One of Decade’s Largest

Food Poisoning Bulletin just counted down the largest multi-state food poisoning outbreaks of 2013, but one single-state outbreak sickened more people than half of the outbreaks on that list. In fact, the 2013 E.coli outbreak linked to Federico’s Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield Park, AZ is one of the largest U.S. E.coli outbreaks in last 10 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The outbreak sickened 94 people during July and August, at least 23 people were hospitalized.  Two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that develops in about 5 to 10 percent of E.coli cases that leads to kidney failure. Other complications from HUS include seizure, stroke and coma.

Those who became ill ate at the restaurant between July 18 and July 31. Health officials strongly suspect lettuce was the food source. Officials from the Maricopa County Public Health Department concluded that because other restaurants that received lettuce from the same supplier did not have illnesses, Federico’s could have received a small batch of contaminated lettuce and spread the bacteria through improper washing techniques. Cross contamination from another food, such as beef, was also a possibility, they said in a final report about the outbreak issued in November.

Health officials gave Federico’s recommendations on the handling and storage of lettuce and handwashing protocols to minimize E.coli contamination. The restaurant, which closed for a time to do an extensive cleaning, complied with all recommendations made by health officials  before reopening.



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