After a Salmonella outbreak in Washington state was linked to Mr. Rick’s, a caterer operating without a permit for years, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department issued a consumer advisory about the importance of choosing a caterer with a permit to operate.
At least 175 people from a number of counties were sickened in the outbreak. All of them attended events catered by Mr. Rick’s.
“Local caterers with the appropriate permit to prepare and serve food at events are responsible for following food safety rules—and protecting the public’s health,” said Rachel Knight, food safety program manager at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Hiring a caterer with a permit is one way to reduce the risk of food poisoning, the advisory states. In doing so, you are hiring a company that: employs staff trained in food safety; uses an approved, kitchen that is regularly inspected; and has the proper equipment to safely prepare, transport and serve food.
Caterers are also responsible for providing the following facilities if the venue does not have them: restrooms with handwashing; hot and cold running water and handwashing sinks separate from the restroom; equipment to keep food hot and cold and a protected area for food preparation and assembly, according to the advisory.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Anyone who ate sprouts at a restaurant and develops these symptoms should see a doctor and mention possible exposure to Salmonella. And contact the health department.