May 26, 2024

Dave’s Sushi Morel Mushroom Outbreak Sickens 41 in Montana

The Dave's Sushi morel mushroom outbreak has now sickened at least 41 people in Montana, according to the FDA's CORE Outbreak Investigation Table. The Table states that morel mushrooms are the suspect food in this outbreak. Two deaths have occurred in patrons of that establishment after eating there. The case count has increased to 41 from 30 since the last update was issued on May 3, 2023. In that investigation, traceback has been initiated, and sample collection and analysis has begun. The Gallatin City-County Health Department, which is also investigating the outbreak, says that ill persons ate at the restaurant between March 31 and April 17, 2023. Three patrons had "severe outcomes," including hospitalizations, and the deaths of two patrons are being investigated. No causative … [Read more...]

Restaurant Food Safety Fails When Training Fails

As food safety lawyers, people have been asking us (from a distance) how worried they should be about COVID-19 and the safety of their takeout food? While we can’t tell them about viral transmission rates via various sources – we’re lawyers, not scientists - we can tell them what we have learned from years of representing people sickened by germs in restaurant food. Good sanitary conditions and safe food preparation processes and procedures (food safety plans) are very important…but it all fails when employee training fails. Obviously, when food safety plans are bad (for example, if they do not include proper testing of food storage areas for correct temperature control or mandate specific locations to keep raw foods from cross-contaminating cooked foods) then germs can spread. Too … [Read more...]

Minnesota Cyclospora Outbreak: Three Restaurants Named by MDH

The Minnesota Department of Health has identified 35 lab-confirmed cases of cyclospora that are associated with three Minnesota restaurants in different areas of the state. Basil is implicated in these illnesses, according to Doug Schultz, Information Officer for the DOH. This Minnesota cyclospora outbreak may be linked to the multistate cyclospora outbreak announced by the FDA yesterday, but we don't know for sure. In the multi-state outbreak, 132 people in 11 states are sick.   There are 26 lab-confirmed cases associated with City Market in Rochester, 4 lab-confirmed cases associated with Outback Steakhouse in Hermantown, and 5 lab-confirmed cases associated with a conference held in Duluth that was catered by Duluth Grill. Minnesota is one of the states named in the FDA … [Read more...]

Restaurants Don’t Explain Risks of Undercooked Meat to Customers

According to a study by North Carolina State University and published in the Journal of Food Protection, front line staff in restaurants do not do a good job explaining risks of undercooked meat to customers. Undercooked meat served at restaurants, especially ground beef, has been the source of food poisoning outbreaks in the past.   Unfortunately, servers in restaurants are a high turnover position with relatively low wages. These workers want to give their customers a positive experience, so they typically don't want to mention potential problems with food. Inaccurate information provided by servers often contracts science-based information people need to make informed food safety decisions. All of the 50 states in this country have adopted some version of the FDA's … [Read more...]

Fig & Olive and Chipotle Salmonella Outbreaks Not Uncommon

The Salmonella outbreaks at the Fig & Olive restaurant in Washington, D.C. and Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota are not uncommon. Just in the last year, there have been six other Salmonella outbreaks linked to restaurants in the United States. Contaminated cucumbers sold in salads at Red Lobster restaurants in Minnesota sickened many people with Salmonella infections this summer. A Salmonella outbreak linked to the deli at the Boise Co-op in Idaho this summer sickened almost 300 people.  A Salmonella outbreak at Seattle's Tallulah restaurant sickened at least 16 people in July, linked to a sauce made from raw eggs. An outbreak at the Tarheel Q restaurant in North Carolina in June and July sickened almost 200 people. A Salmonella outbreak at the X10 restaurant in Dalhart, Texas last … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning at Simi Valley Chipotle Strikes 77

At least 77 people who ate at a Simi Valley, California Chipotle last week got food poisoning, one of them was hospitalized. Health officials are investigating the outbreak that includes sixty customers and 17 employees. Symptoms of the illnesses, associated with food eaten on August 18 and August 19, include diarrhea, vomiting, chills and fever. The restaurant, on the 1200 block of Simi Town Center Way, was closed for one day last week while food was discarded and the restaurant was cleaned. Even after the cleaning health inspectors found some food safety violations including dirty restrooms;  unsanitary floors, walls ceilings; utensils and equipment that were not clean or not properly maintained and some workers who did not have valid food handler cards.  The violations did not … [Read more...]

Salmonella Outbreak at Seattle’s Tallulah Restaurant Sickens 16

A Salmonella outbreak has been reported at Tallulah's restaurant in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, according to the Seattle Times. King County reports that about 200 to 300 Salmonella cases are reported every year. In this outbreak, at least 16 people were sickened. The outbreak occurred June 21, 2015; the restaurant is at 550 19th Avenue East in Seattle, Washington. Patients range in age from 4 to 71. Nine cases were confirmed; seven cases are probable. One person had to be hospitalized because of their illness. The illnesses were linked to crab and ham Eggs Benedict dishes, which were served with a sauce made from raw eggs. The menu had a warning label to inform customers that dishes made with raw or undercooked foods such as eggs could cause food poisoning. Restaurant … [Read more...]

Salmonella Outbreak in 2013 Linked to Jouni Ground Beef

A Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak in 2013 was linked to ground beef produced by Jouni Meats and sold at Gab Halal Foods. At least 22 people in 6 states were sickened in this outbreak. Half of all ill persons interviewed were hospitalized, which is a very high number. Usually only about 20 to 25% of sick people are hospitalized with Salmonella infections. Fred Pritzker, a prominent food safety attorney who represents consumers sickened in these outbreaks said, "no company should produce, and no store should sell, any foods that contain enough pathogenic bacteria to make someone sick." The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, chills, fever, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. People usually get sick six to … [Read more...]

Restaurant Outbreaks: Not the Fault of Workers

The history of food safety, corporate irresponsibility, and workers’ rights is long and tortuous (as well as tortious). From the days of Upton Sinclair (rotten and diseased meat), unpasteurized and tuberculosis-laden milk, all the way through the present, the dangers of unsafe food have been compounded by improperly trained and poorly paid food workers. In fact, during my career as a food safety lawyer on behalf of people harmed by contaminated food, I can honestly say that only a few cases did not involve food workers who were insufficiently trained, poorly paid or both. That’s particularly true in the restaurant industry, especially in fast food restaurants. Employees of those establishments who are paid poorly, have few benefits and no pensions are time and time again implicated … [Read more...]

FoodBorne Chicago Uses Twitter to Track Illness, Find Offenders

Can Twitter be used to identify sources of food poisoning? FoodBorne Chicago, found success with a trial run and now Boston and New York are considering similar programs. FoodBorne Chicago is a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization with the goal of using technology to improve the lives. Using an algorithm, FoodBorne Chicago tracked tweets originating from the Chicago area that mentioned food poisoning. During the 10-month study period, March 2013–January 2014,  2,241 tweets mentioning food poisoning originated from the Chicago metropolitan area. Of those, 270 described specific instances of food poisoning, eight of whom said they sought medical attention. Project staffers replied to these tweets saying "Help us prevent this and report where you ate here … [Read more...]

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