According to a message on its Facebook page, Reno Provisions, the cafe that made a dessert linked to a food poisoning outbreak in Nevada in 2015, is closing. An E. coli outbreak at the Twisted Fork restaurant in Reno, Nevada last year sickened at least 22 people.
Investigators at the Washoe County Health District discovered that chocolate mousse made by Reno Provisions, a store and cafe, for the restaurant was contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria. Apparently a blender used for meat that was not cleaned properly before it was used again to make the mousse was the culprit.
The outbreak took place in October and November, 2015. The Health District ordered Reno Provisions to establish a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system approach to address the outbreak and learn to control hazards of contamination during food production.
Cross-contamination is one of several ways that food can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Foods that can carry E. coli bacteria include raw milk, raw meat, raw poultry, and contaminated produce. When these foods are prepared and the surfaces, utensils, and appliances that touch them are not properly cleaned, the bacteria can easily transfer to other foods. This is a critical issue when the later prepared foods are not cooked to kill bacteria.
Cuts of beef are usually contaminated with E. coli bacteria on their surfaces, since this bacteria live in the guts of ruminant animals. That’s why the USDA and food safety experts tell people to thoroughly cook ground beef and other ground meats to 165°F before eating to kill this bacteria.
Reno Provisions temporarily closed after the outbreak for investigators to do their work and for cleaning. The Twisted Fork restaurant also voluntarily closed after the outbreak. The Washoe County Health Department did not release any information about whether or not any people were hospitalized in this outbreak, or whether any of the patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication of this type of infection. About 15% of children who contract an E. coli infection develop HUS.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, severe abdominal cramps, a mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear within three to seven days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria. Some people recover on their own, but others become so ill they need to be hospitalized.
An E. coli infection can develop into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), in some cases. Risk factors for this complication include age and health status. Young children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and people with chronic health conditions are more likely to develop HUS. The symptoms of HUS include lethargy, little or no urine output, pale skin, easy bruising, a skin rash, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. If these symptoms develop, a patient needs immediate medical attention to save their life.