10 now sick with E. coli O157 linked to Seattle food truck

King County Public Health has investigated an E. coli outbreak after six – now 10 — cases of E. coli O157 were linked to Los Chilangos food trucks.

Elizabeth BuderThe owners of Los Chilangos stated that they are ready to reopen, but this news naturally did not sit well with the Buder family as their daughter is currently confined at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  For the last 10 days, Elizabeth Buder has been fighting kidney failure in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. 

Elizabeth has been complaining about her tummy non stop.  “She’s constantly ‘My tummy. My tummy,'” said her mom, Deanna Buder. “And then she says ‘I want to see my friends. I want to see kids,’ because no kids are allowed in there. She just misses home.”

The Buder family shared a plate of carnitas at a Los Chilangos food truck last August 8.  Although the mom and dad were fine, Elizabeth or Scout as people would call her, started complaining of stomach ache days later.  “Normal things that a kid might get, a tummy ache, she was a little tired, she wasn’t hungry,” said Buder.  However, Scout’s conditions became worse as her body released some bloody diarrhea.  A trip to the emergency room confirmed the parents’ worst nightmare, as Scout’s kidney deteriorates and she has to stay in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Scout is just one of the six — now 10 — confirmed positive of a dangerous strain of E.coli O157, all linked to Los Chilangos.  Los Chilangos’ Bellevue and other locations were closed last Wednesday by the Public Health department. Los Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets in King and Snohomish Counties, operates two food trucks, and also caters events.  However, they were able to secure an approval to reopen on Thursday.  None of the employees were positive of the disease and investigators still have not found the source of the infection.

The Buder family would like to seek more justice beyond the shutting down of the kitchen and the food truck.  “”There should be consequences beyond shutting down the kitchen for a few days,” said Buder.  “People need to be aware of what to look for, and then after that be aware that you shouldn’t go to this business,” she said.


98 sickened: Norovirus confirmed at Calif. Chipotle

An investigation by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division (EHD) revealed that during the week of August 18, 2015, about 80 restaurant customers and 18 restaurant employees reported symptoms characteristic of a gastrointestinal illness.

norovirus-2The restaurant, in conformance with its own corporate policy, voluntarily closed the facility, threw out all remaining food products, cleaned and disinfected the facility including all food contact surfaces, and excluded all employees with symptoms from working in the restaurant. EHD staff conducted an inspection the following day to confirm that the food had been removed, the restaurant was adequately disinfected, and the 18 employees had been excluded from work.

As part of the investigation the EHD and Public Health staff interviewed affected customers and restaurant staff to determine when the illness began and what had been eaten. The EHD also ordered that all affected restaurant employees submit specimens for laboratory analysis in an attempt to determine the cause of the illnesses. As of Sep. 3, 2015, 7-out-of-18 samples tested positive for Norovirus. The employees with positive test results will continue to be excluded from the restaurant until subsequent laboratory analysis results are negative for the virus and the Public Health Division has cleared them to return to work. There have been no further reports of illness since the initial reports two weeks ago.

‘We hired a consultant’ Mass. restaurant manager blasts health board

A local Chinese restaurant temporarily shut down by the Board of Health says it won’t reopen because of the board’s “baseless” and “irresponsible” decision.

red.pepper.farminghamIn a scathing letter sent to the Board of Health Monday, the manager of Red Pepper, 17 Edgell Road, said the restaurant was firmly refusing “to accept your unjust order.”

Hong Jiang said the health board hurt the restaurant’s reputation and made false and inappropriate statements during its Aug. 24 meeting, including exaggerating its history of critical violations. Citing prior problems and recent failed inspections, members voted 3-0 to close the restaurant until it took steps to ensure food safety.

“Your irresponsible bureaucratic decision has already caused serious financial losses on us since August 24, and conditions you required to allow us to ‘reopen’ is financially unaffordable for a small business like ours,” Jiang wrote. “As such, we are forced to permanently close the Red Pepper Restaurant in Framingham.”

The Board of Health took action after learning inspectors repeatedly found critical violations at Red Pepper in recent months, such as uncovered food, improper food temperatures and no towels or soap at a handwashing station

“It is astounding that a Health Board would arbitrarily erase two years between the dates, in an apparent attempt to exaggerate Red Pepper’s problems and mislead the public,” he wrote.

Jiang also disputed statements Chairman Mike Hugo made about previous consultants calling the place a “hopeless mess” and saying no one there was paying attention to food safety. Jiang wrote the restaurant hired one consultant in 2012 to train kitchen staff and then a second who “praised the cleanliness of our kitchen and also expressed satisfaction with our cooperation during his training sessions.”

Jiang wrote that no one was ever sickened by eating at Red Pepper, and customers, in fact, have written many positive public reviews about the authentic Sichuan cuisine.

6 sick with E. coli in Seatlle: Hipster food trucks hit food safety

King County Public Health is investigating six E. coli cases that appear to be linked to a food truck that visited farmers markets.

Los Chilangos“Through a few initial interviews with ill people, we determined that everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by, a local food vendor called Los Chilangos,” Public Health staff said in a statement.

The department required the food truck to stop selling food.

A 4-year-old girl is one of those affected, and her mother said her daughter became sick after eating at Los Chilangos around August 8.

The food truck visited the Issaquah and Sammamish farmers markets.

Deanna Buder said her 4-year-old daughter started experiencing pain and swelling in her abdomen, and stopped eating. Tuesday is her seventh day at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

e.coli.foodtruck.seattleLos Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets in King and Snohomish counties, operates two food trucks, and also caters events. Los Chilangos uses Eastside Commercial Kitchen, where they share space and equipment with about a dozen other food businesses.

The kitchen was told to stop producing food, as were the food trucks that used it.

“We are still investigating the source of the E. coli,” the Public Health statement said. “If we determine that a food contained the E. coli bacteria, we will try to trace it back to stores, suppliers, and even farms to address the root of the problem with corrective actions, if possible.”

King County Public Health released the key steps of their investigation:

  1. We [King Co. Public Health] interviewed people who got sick.

“At this time [Tuesday afternoon], six people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli (three have been hospitalized). When Public Health determines that anyone is sick from a serious foodborne illness like E. coli, we [King Co. Public Health] interview them to determine what may have caused their illness. We  [King Co. Public Health] do this to find the source of the outbreak and prevent others from getting infected. In this instance, through a few initial interviews with ill people, we [King Co. Public Health] determined that everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by a local food vendor called Los Chilangos. Public Health took swift action and required Los Chilangos to cease operations.”

  1. We [King Co. Public Health] investigated a food business that was associated with the people who got sick.

“But we  [King Co. Public Health] didn’t stop there. Los Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets in King and Snohomish Counties, operates two food trucks, and also caters events. Los Chilangos utilizes a shared kitchen space, called a commissary kitchen. The kitchen that they use is Eastside Commercial Kitchen, where they share space and equipment with about a dozen other food businesses.”

  1. We [King Co. Public Health] intervened at the specific site and operation.

“The condition of the commissary and the potential for cross contamination were deemed an imminent health hazard, and the health officer issued a cease and desist order to the commissary on Thursday, August 27. Additionally, all of the food vendors permitted by Public Health that use this kitchen were also told to cease operations. Recognizing that this lapse in operation hurts business, our team has worked diligently with these vendors to find new places for them to resume their work and remind them about important food safety measures.”

  1. Next steps: tracing the source

“As of today, the investigation isn’t over. We  [King Co. Public Health]  are still investigating the source of the E. coli.  If we determine that a food contained the E. coli bacteria, we will try to trace it back to stores, suppliers, and even farms to address the root of the problem with corrective actions, if possible.

But, it’s possible that the source of E. coli may never be determined. E coli is often linked to beef, but it can also be linked to produce, such as spinach and sprouts, along with a variety of other foods such as unpasteurized juices, raw milk, game meats, and other common foods.

For outbreaks such as this one, we [King Co. Public Health] continue to monitor the situation and look for other common factors among ill people. While we know Los Chilangos is linked, they may not be the only ones involved. For instance, the source of E. coli could be served by other vendors.

We [King Co. Public Health] are currently working with all of the businesses connected to this outbreak to make sure that they are not using any products that may have become contaminated and that they have food safety measures in place. This includes having the businesses address needed repairs to their equipment, providing education to their staff, and ensuring their operations are safe to open.

Though Los Chilangos has been linked to this outbreak, they deserve credit for their dutiful cooperation during our investigation. No food vendor wants to make people sick, and we know everyone is very concerned about the people who have become ill. We will be updating this blog as the picture becomes clearer.”

Indian state makes food safety a priority, conducts raids

As many as 1,766 food safety raids have been carried out across Kerala and nine shops have been closed for selling adulterated food articles during Onam season, Health Minister V S Sivakumar said. 

keralaThe drives were conducted as part of ‘Operation Ruchi,’ the state-wide food safety initiative launched by the Health Department to restrict the use of chemicals and other harmful ingredients in food articles. Sivakumar said the initiative was a big success during Onam season and raids would be continued in the coming days.

“A total of 1,766 raids have been carried out under the drive during Onam period. Raids are continuing at eateries, vegetable stalls and check posts,” he said here.  The minister said the government’s efforts to ensure the availability of unadulterated food articles, complying with the food safety standards, during the festival season met with success.

‘Systematic disgrace': Directors convicted, fined $70K for unhygienic Chinese restaurant in Melbourne

Four directors and their company have been convicted and fined a total of $70,000 for the unhygienic and unclean state last year of their Chinese restaurant in Kew that a magistrate has described as a “systematic disgrace.”

san.choiA Melbourne court heard that the manager of San Choi on Kew voluntarily shut the premises for two days after Boroondara council officers found multiple contraventions of the Food Act and Food Standards Code in two inspections.

Prosecutor Stephanie Bower told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday that a mandatory inspection of the premises in High Street on August 11 found accumulated dirt, food scraps and other “visible matter” on the kitchen floors, under wok equipment and food preparation benches.

Ms Bower said food – oysters, diced chicken, pork and dumplings – was not stored in a way to protect it from the likelihood of contamination.

She said oysters were stored in a cool room and underbench fridges in “uncovered and exposed plastic tubs and bowls”, diced chicken was uncovered in a plastic tub on a kitchen bench and pork was stored uncovered on trays on kitchen shelving.

Ms Bower told magistrate Carolene Gwynn also that dumplings were kept in a walk-in freezer on an uncovered metal tray while other food was “stored in an outdoor cage area amongst cleaning chemicals and other equipment”.

She detailed how food, including pork shoulders and diced chicken, was stored outside of temperature control and had been for at least two hours.

Defence barrister Belinda Franjic said her clients, who had no prior convictions, were hardworking friends of 20 years from a “blameless existence” who were “equally to blame for the state of the restaurant”. Ms Franjic said only one had had daily involvement in the restaurant, which has operated since 2006, and that the circumstances of the offences had caused them shame and humiliation.

NYC landmark soul food restaurant in Harlem shut down by health inspector

DNAinfo reports that health inspectors shut down one of the neighborhood’s most popular soul food eateries Thursday after finding flies in the Manna’s Restaurant at Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

manna'sInspectors also found that cold food items were held above the required temperature, and food contact surface was not properly sanitized at the eatery at 2353 Frederick Douglass Blvd.,according to the Department of Health.

The restaurant remained closed Monday. 

A sign outside the restaurant read, “Sorry but we will be closed … until Tuesday.” An “A” rating was still posted on the window.

How Hawaii’s restaurants have fared after one year of the placard rating system

It’s been about a year since the Hawaii Department of Health started issuing placards to restaurants as part of its food safety program.

hawaii-restaurant-placardyellow*304xx1035-1553-83-0The color coded system gives everyone a clear look at just how safe a restaurant is.

A green card means it passed inspection. A yellow card means two or more major violations and a follow-up inspection is needed. And red means the place is shut down because of health risks.

One of the first restaurants to get a green placard was Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop in Chinatown.

“I feel the placard system makes restaurants feel accountable for their sanitation, their health issues, their kitchen, how they manage their food,” said Brian Chan, Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop owner.

In the first year of the program, July 2014 – July 2015, health inspectors handed out 8,546 placards, amounting to about 84% of all food establishments in the state.

Of those placards given out, 6,744 received green ones, 1,802 received yellow, and no one got a red placard.

KHON2 asked health officials what the response has been from restaurants that received yellow placards.

“They understand what we’re doing. Before we started to roll out this program, we made a point to visit every single one of our 10,000 establishments to explain at length exactly what our inspectors would be looking for. So I think it’s not really much of a shock to them. They understand the idea to get the green placard is rapid corrections of the violations,” replied Department of Health Sanitation Branch manager Peter Oshiro.


There’s a camera everywhere: NY rat-in-kitchen photo leads health department to shut down Prosperity Dumpling in Chinatown

A popular dumpling restaurant in Manhattan has been shut down after a photo of a rat in the kitchen surfaced online, prompting the health department to do a surprise inspection.

The New York City Department of Health closed Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge Street in Chinatown Thursday night.

An anonymous tipster sent a photo to the website, gothamist.com, of a back alley area where food is prepared at the restaurant. In the shot, a rat can be clearly seen on the ground. The person who took the photo said it was taken Sunday evening and that the photo had been sent to the health department.

The restaurant received an “A” grade in its most recent inspection on May 28, although the restaurant inspection cites “live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas” as one of its sanitary violations.

I said I quit, but really didn’t: Nevada health type walks out amid tensions over restaurant inspections

Disagreement over how restaurants are being regulated boiled over at a Southern Nevada Health District board meeting Thursday with an official offering her resignation and walking out after she was criticized by her staff.

Jacqueline Reszetar'sSouthern Nevada Health District Director of Environmental Health Jacqueline Reszetar’s staff thinks the department is too business friendly in its approach to restaurant inspections, according to Brian Shepherd, chief of staff for Service Employees International Union local 1107, which represents health district workers.

Reszetar also was criticized for making culturally insensitive comments, though it wasn’t clear what she is accused of saying.

“Excuse me, but today I will give you my resignation, today. You’re safe,” Reszetar said to her employees, according to a recording of the meeting. “You can go back to the environmental health that you feel comfortable with. I’m done today. Thank you very much.”

After the meeting, Reszetar said she had not quit. Dr. Joseph Iser, chief medical officer for the district, said resignations can only be submitted in writing.

Shepherd said employees in the restaurant inspection division have very little confidence in management, and Reszetar’s conduct emphasizes how difficult the work environment is.