January 20, 2020

Meat Blender Contaminated Chocolate Mousse with E. coli

Restaurant blurredWhen an E. coli outbreak at the Twisted Fork in Reno, Nevada was linked to a dessert item prepared by another company, many people wondered: what can it be? Something containing fresh berries? Something made from unpasteurized dairy? Was it undercooked ground beef?

Nope. It turns out that the chocolate mousse made for the restaurant by Reno Provisions that gave 22 people E. coli infections was contaminated when a blender used for meat was not cleaned properly before it was used again to make the mousse. Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said in a statement, “several people who ate at the Twisted Fork restaurant had the dessert, as did some other people outside the Reno area who then developed the E. coli infection. That commonality led investigators to the dessert supplier, and to tests of food and equipment at Reno Provisions.”

Washoe County Health District led the investigation into the outbreak which sickened 22 people who ate at the restaurant between mid-October and mid-November. The Health District directed Reno Provisions to establish plans through a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system approach, which address the control of hazards including cross contamination during the food production processes.

“The Health District takes our responsibility to protect the public from communicable diseases very seriously, whether it’s an E. coli outbreak from food served in restaurants, or norovirus in schools,” said Dick. “We want the public to know it is our highest priority to protect the health of residents and visitors to our area.”

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that can be watery or bloody, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear in one to three days after exposure and last about a week. Many people sickened by this bacteria recover on their own, but others become so ill they must be hospitalized. An E. coli infection can be deadly, especially if it develops into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), that can destroy the kidneys. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, easy bruising, bleeding from the nose or mouth, lethargy, and pale skin. Anyone who is suffering from any of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

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