July 15, 2020

Salmonella at Fig & Olive on Melrose Place, Too?

Earlier this month, the Fig & Olive restaurant in Washington DC’s City Center was linked to Salmonella outbreak that sickened as many as 160 people from five states and the District of Columbia.  But was the West Hollywood location affected, too?

At least 12 people who ate at the Fig & Olive on Melrose Place have Salmonella infections. So far, nine cases are confirmed. Of those, six are patrons and three are employees,  the Los Angeles County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email.

All food handlers and any symptomatic nonfood handlers have been removed from work and were asked to submit stool samples. Interviews are ongoing with ill individuals and confirmed cases.

At both locations, truffle oil was mentioned as a suspected source. Fig & Olive makes its own truffle oil. There has not been a recall. But at the DC location, which reopened last week after a six-day closure, truffle fries and mushroom croquettes are no longer on the menu.

Restaurant kitchenSymptoms of a Salmonella infection including fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody. Stool cultures can confirm an infection and determine if it it part of the outbreak.

Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals and causes infection when food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter is ingested.  The contamination can occur in the growing fields, during slaughter, or if an infected food handler shows up for work. People with Salmonella infections can still spread disease up to three days after symptoms resolve.

There have been a number of recent Salmonella outbreaks. A 31-state cucumber Salmonella outbreak has sickened 418 people killing three of them. Some of those illnesses were linked to cucumbers served on salads at Red Lobster restaurants.

Three strains of Salmonella Poona are associated with that outbreak which has been linked to cucumber grown in Mexico and distributed in the U.S. by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.

In Minnesota, a Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to tomatoes served at Chipotle restaurants has sickened at least 64 people. So far, illnesses were reported in association with food served at 22 of the 60 Minnesota Chipotle locations.

And two Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to raw, frozen stuffed chicken entrees. One, linked to Chicken Kiev and other products were produced by Barber Foods. Nine people in four states were sickened in that outbreak, two were hospitalized. The illnesses were reported from April 5 through June 8 among case patients ranging in age from 19 to 82 years.

Barber has issued a recall for the product which was sold at Sam’s Club s stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois and at other stores.

The second was linked to raw, frozen stuffed chicken entrees produced by Aspen Foods. Three people were sickened in this outbreak.

Aspen Foods issued a recall of 1,978,680 pounds of frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products sold under multiple brand names. Since that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) began increased monitoring at the plant and has found Salmonella in twelve samples.

To protect consumers from products produced at the Chicago plant which has a “systemic” Salmonella problem, FSIS issued a public health alert and directed its personnel to detain all products covered by the alert found in commerce.


This post was updated September 23.

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