Did cross-contamination play a role in the Boise Co-Op Salmonella outbreak? Health authorities investigating the outbreak which has sickened 200 people say it likely played a role.
About 200 people who ate food prepared in the deli between June 1 and June 10 have fallen ill with symptoms of Salmonella poisoning including nausea, diarrhea and headache. Health officials say they continue to receive new reports of illness. They encourage anyone who ate food from the deli and has had Salmonella symptoms to see a health care provider. So far, foods identified as a sources of illness include turkey, tomato and onions.
Officials from the Central District Health Department are working with Co-Op management on a redesign of the kitchen and workflow that will reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Some of those changes include adding sinks, increasing food safety training for employees and using color-coded cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination.
Restaurants and delis have a track record of cross-contamination problems with poultry, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection. Researchers found that many restaurants don’t follow the FDA Food Code guidance about cross-contamination prevention and that managers and staff lack basic food safety knowledge about poultry.
Forty percent of managers said they “never, rarely, or only sometimes designate certain cutting boards for raw meat.” One-third of managers said they did not wash and rinse surfaces before sanitizing them. More than half of managers didn’t know the safe final internal temperature of cooked chicken. And more than half of the managers rinsed or washed raw chicken, which creates cross-contamination in the food preparation area.
Once the changes are made to the kitchen and the deli passes inspection, the Boise Co-Op can receive approval from the health department to reopen.