May 8, 2021

Arby’s Norovirus Outbreak in Springfield, Illinois Sickens 92

An Arby’s norovirus outbreak in Springfield, Illinois has sickened at least 92 people and the restaurant has closed for a second time in less than a month. That restaurant is located at 3009 South Dirksen Parkway in Springfield.

Arby's Norovirus Outbreak in Springfield, Illinois Sickens 92

Sangamon County public health officials confirmed to News Channel 20 that norovirus is the cause of the illnesses. Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes symptoms of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Illness onset is quick, usually within a couple of hours, and the illness resolves quickly, often with a day or two, with patients typically not needing medical attention. The illness is spread person-to-person, through contact with contaminated surfaces, and through contaminated food and drink.

The restaurant closed in late February after about 40 people reported symptoms of food poisoning. The facility was cleaned, and reopened a week ago, but more reports of illness forced its cleaning again for deep cleaning and employee training.

According to inspection reports conducted by the Sangamon Department of Public Health, that Arby’s norovirus outbreak prompted an inspection that was conducted on February 23, 2021.

In that inspection, four violations were noted; none were critical violations. First, the person in charge must be able to explain responsibility for preventing transmission of foodborne disease by an employee, be able to describe symptoms, and explain how employees comply with reporting responsibilities. The employee log for people calling in sick was not properly maintained by the person in charge. The log must note who is calling out, the symptoms they have when they call off, and when they return to work. Those issues will be corrected moving forward.

Second, the probe used for checking foods was stored on top of an oven and between packages of breading. the top of the oven was “visibly soiled with dust and debris.” Any item that is used for contact with ready to eat foods must be stored so it remains free of possible contamination.

Third, food was not maintained at 41°F or less. Meats stored in the prep cooler were at temperatures of 45 to 48°F. Those items were discarded during inspection. Sauces had internal temperatures ranging from 48 to 60°F. Those sauces were discarded and time control procedures and paperwork were completed the day of inspection.

Finally, foods prepared and held for more than 24 hours have to be marked to indicate the date and the maximum hold of seven days. were held longer than the maximum of seven days. Brisket, gyro meat, and corned beef in the prep cooler should have been discarded the day before. And multiple items in the walk in cooler were observed with only a day of the week marked; they have to be marked with the actual full date. These issues were corrected during the inspection.

Four spot checks were conducted after that original inspection up to February 25, 2021. Only one found a violation, and that was not critical. On February 25, 2021, sauces were observed with internal temperatures of 48 to 50°F in the top of the prep cooler. The inspector discussed the issue with the person in charge, and the sauces will be stored in the under section of the cooler moving forward.

More spot checks were conducted after the Arby’s norovirus outbreak: one on March 1, five on March 3; one on March 6, and one on March 8, 2021. None found any violations.

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