The restaurant chain Fig & Olive has been linked to two Salmonella outbreaks on opposite coasts of the country. One of the restaurants is located in Washington D.C.’s City Center, and the other is on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, California. Restaurants are the most common setting for foodborne illness outbreaks, and restaurant chains are often involved.
The Washington D.C. outbreak may have sickened 160 people in 5 states. The outbreak in West Hollywood has sickened at least 12 people, with nine confirmed cases. Some of the patients in the California outbreak are employees. The restaurants are part of a New York-based chain.
The D.C. Fig & Olive was closed for six days while an investigation was conducted by health inspectors. The restaurant reopened when management provided evidence of clean-up and sanitization of the kitchen and premises, verified employee health training, and destroyed current food inventory. Recent inspections found food safety violations; they were corrected before the restaurant was allowed to reopen.
Health officials say the health risk has been eliminated at the D.C. restaurant. Two items were removed from the menu: truffle fries and mushroom croquettes. We don’t know if those foods were associated with the outbreak, or if another food common to both restaurants is the culprit. Both restaurants could have the same supplier for foods that could be contaminated with the bacteria. We also don’t know if the serotype of Salmonella that is causing these illnesses is the same in both restaurant outbreaks.
In the California outbreak, the Los Angeles County Health Department confirmed the numbers for Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email. In that outbreak, symptomatic food handlers were removed from the job and submitted stool samples. The health department is conducting interviews with patients and staff to try to solve the outbreak.
There is a nationwide Salmonella outbreak ongoing at this time linked to imported cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of California. There is also an outbreak in Minnesota Chipotle restaurants linked to tomatoes. We don’t know if either of those foods played a part in the Fig & Olive outbreaks. We do know that the cucumbers were shipped nationwide and were sold to food service distributors.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, abdominal cramps, and headache. If you ate at a Fig & Olive restaurant anywhere in the country, or, for that matter, at any restaurant, and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor.
If you have been sick with a Salmonella infection, it’s important to know that the long term consequences of this illness can be serious even if you recover without medical care. Reiter’s Syndrome, which can cause eye irritations and reactive arthritis, is one complication. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome can also be complications of this illness. Your doctor should have a record of this illness for your future health.