10 sick and yes, we know you take food safety very seriously: Another outbreak in richie rich part of Kansas

Health officials said Tuesday they are investigating reports of a gastrointestinal illness that has sickened at least 10 people who visited the Buffalo Wild Wings grill and bar at 7030 W. 105th St. in Overland Park last week.

buffalo.wild.wingsThe cause and source of the illness haven’t been determined, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said. Health officials are awaiting results of laboratory tests that may identify the illness.

The health department began receiving reports Friday from people who became ill beginning Thursday. Students from the Shawnee Mission School District were among the people who reported illness.

Reported symptoms included vomiting and diarrhea, “symptoms that can be attributed to a lot of things,” said health department spokeswoman Barbara Mitchell.

The Johnson County health department is working on the investigation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the city of Overland Park.

In response to the illnesses, the Agriculture Department inspected the restaurant Saturday and found 17 code violations. Among them: An employee was observed wiping his nose with the back of a gloved hand and then returning to the work area without washing his hands or changing gloves. Several bottles of liquor in the bar area contained small dead insects. Cooking utensils contained dried bits of cabbage, onion and other food debris. Boxed dinner napkins were stored on the floor of an employee restroom.

“We take food safety very seriously, and following a report Saturday of potential illness by the health department, we decided to close the Overland Park restaurant to allow for a third-party vendor to conduct a thorough cleaning,” a spokeswoman for the Buffalo Wild Wings corporate office said in a statement.

Over 600 sick in Kansas Norovirus outbreak

A suburban Kansas City dinner theater has spent $40,000 cleaning up after a norovirus outbreak sickened more than 600 people.

norovirus-2And that’s supposed to impress?

Where’s the empathy? Where’s the lost wages? Where’s the commitment to food safety?

So far during KDHE’s investigation, more than 600 individuals have reported illness. A majority of these reports were from people who attended the New Theatre Restaurant between Friday, Jan. 15 and Tuesday, Jan. 19. KDHE has not received any reports of people becoming ill who attended New Theatre after Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Probably noro: Cheektowaga steakhouse reopens after scrubdowns

As a kid growing up with Buffalo-based TV and Commander Tom, the only thing I knew about Cheektowaga was that there was usually a 2-alarm fire.

Dog_dies__firefighter_injured_in_Cheekto_0_28841641_ver1.0_640_480The LongHorn Steakhouse in Cheektowaga, NY, which closed Wednesday after some employees and customers became ill, reopened Thursday evening under the scrutiny of the Erie County Department of Health.

According to Dr. Gale R. Burstein, county health commissioner, “We didn’t find anything that caused us to be suspicious or to believe the illness was a result of unsafe food-handling practices.” Inspectors said no major food violations were found during their inspection and that employees were wearing gloves and practicing good hand washing.

While the source of the illnesses has not precisely been pinned down, Burstein said the highly contagious norovirus seems most likely. Symptoms, including stomach and intestinal inflammation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea, usually develop within 12 to 48 hours of ingesting tainted food. In extreme cases, death can occur.

The LongHorn, located at 2015 Walden Avenue, is part of the Darden Restaurants company that also owns the Olive Garden and five other brands. A Darden spokesman said the Cheektowaga venue underwent two sanitizing sessions after the closing. “The health and safety of our guests and team members is our top priority, which is why we took the additional step of voluntarily closing our restaurant,” the restaurant said in a statement.

‘Food safety is very very important’ 390 sick after attending Kansas dinner theater

Nearly 400 people have reported feeling ill after recently dining at a suburban Kansas City dinner theater, with some testing positive for norovirus, health officials said on Thursday.

norovirus-2The diners who fell ill had eaten at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas since Jan. 15, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a news release.

 “Food safety is very important to us,” said theater vice president Rob McGraw. “We are inspected regularly and it is very, very important to us.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, a follow-up inspection at the theater three days after the outbreak found nine violations, including an employee who handed a tray of raw chicken with gloved hands and then handled a pan of fried chicken.


Fancy food ain’t safe food, over 100 sickened: Overland Park dinner theater edition

Ah, Overland Park, the Richie Rich part of Kansas City.

Given that norovirus has about a six-hour onset, maybe those rich folk should demand a quicker public notification than 10 days, with over 100 people sick.

New Theater Restaurant in Overland ParkThe Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment are looking into an outbreak of norovirus infection among people who became ill after attending a performance at the New Theater Restaurant in Overland Park earlier this month.

More than 100 people who attended one of the two performances on Jan. 17 have reported illnesses, and four have laboratory specimens to confirm norovirus.

50 sick: Seattle restaurant closed after suspected noro outbreak

JoNel Aleccia of The Seattle Times reports that health officials have closed Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant in Bellevue while they investigate a suspected outbreak of norovirus food poisoning that may have sickened as many as 50 people at a private event.

godfather.rest.sceneOne or more people may already have been ill at the Jan. 18 event, officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County reported Tuesday.

Several workers at the restaurant at 10455 N.E. Eighth St. in Bellevue also were ill with symptoms consistent with norovirus. No lab tests have confirmed that the illnesses are norovirus, but tests may be pending, officials said.

Hockey players get better with constant practice, not 2 hour gimmicks: Chipotle is ‘focused on bullshit’

Yes, I said it.

doug.hockey.2.sep.15Sure it was 4 a.m., I was talking with Joseph Erbentraut of The Huffington Post, getting ready for hockey, and didn’t want to deal with niceties.

It’s been six months since the start of Chipotle’s food safety crisis — a series of six outbreaks that have sickened at least 500 people.

The company has apologized for the outbreaks of norovirus and E. coli, tweaked its cooking methods and announced that it will temporarily close all its stores for a companywide food safety meeting on Feb. 8. But with an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still underway, it appears the company still hasn’t identified the source of the contamination.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold pointed The Huffington Post to a Jan. 19 press release announcing that the company’s “comprehensive new food safety programs” are largely already in place, and that it will be sharing information with its employees at the Feb. 8 meeting about what they believe caused the food safety issues.

Doug Powell, a former Kansas State University food safety professor and the publisher and editor of Barfblog, a popular food safety blog, isn’t convinced. He’s been wary of Chipotle for almost a decade now, and has his doubts that the company’s new approach will solve anything.

HuffPost recently spoke with Powell about why Chipotle has struggled in its response to the outbreaks — and what it should be doing instead.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why is it taking Chipotle so long to figure out the source of this E. coli outbreak, compared to the other food safety issues they’ve had over this last year?

chipotle_ad_2Never underestimate the power of denial. The epidemiology is clear that there was an outbreak involving E. coli O26, and in this case it was probably from the cilantro or some other fresh produce item that wasn’t cooked. Fresh produce is the biggest source of foodborne illness in the U.S. and has been for the last 10 years, and that’s because it’s not cooked. We want it fresh.

Somehow in the last five years in the U.S., the produce folks have gotten much more aggressive about having to test [bacteria] in the product and find it. Tell any scientist that and they’ll say that’s bullshit, because it’s a fresh product, so it’s here and gone and we’re not going to find [bacteria]. Testing really only tells you that this one really minor sample, in this one batch, in one lot, came back negative. It doesn’t tell you much else. You can’t test your way to a safe food supply.

Chipotle has really built its brand around using fresh produce, and consumer demand for food like this has been rising. So the company has put itself in this risky position, right?

It doesn’t have to increase the risk. It means that they have to be better at having on-farm food safety plans for their suppliers and enforcing them. It seems to me that Chipotle was much more concerned about being natural, sustainable, GMO-free, hormone-free — anything but microbiologically safe — and that’s why they’ve had six outbreaks in six months. The two norovirus outbreaks have nothing to do with the on-farm contamination. That’s human.

They say they’ve introduced sick leave [on Wednesday], but they actually had it six months ago. They’re recycling press releases at this point, which tells me they’re kind of desperate. They’re all about the money and they’ve lost 47 percent of their stock value.

The company is facing a new class-action lawsuit this week, where it’s being accused of a cover-up in the norovirus outbreak in Simi Valley, California. How much damage has this done to Chipotle’s brand at this point? 

It’s billions of dollars. It’s embarrassing that a company is allowed to get away with this sort of stuff, these multiple failures, while at the same time they’re charging a premium for “sustainable” food, whatever that means. All these adjectives that they use in their marketing don’t really mean anything. This is a company really focused on bullshit rather than being focused on microbiologically safe food. [Chipotle has emphasized that it is just as dedicated to using what it calls the highest-quality ingredients as it is to being an industry leader in food safety.]

Does the question of government regulation play a role in this?

Government is there to ensure a minimum standard. But they do not make the profit and they do not really enforce safe food. That is up to the company… You want to make the profit off the food, you’re going to be liable. So they’re taking some well-deserved hits at this point. Whether they’ll recover or not — they can, but just going to the PR solution and this gimmick of shutting all the stores down for two hours on Feb. 8 isn’t how you do training. It takes every week reinforcing the messages and focusing on one goal.

What should Chipotle be doing right now that it isn’t already? Are there examples to look to of similar companies that have handled this effectively?

They’ve followed the Jack in the Box model from 1993 in that they hired some food safety consultants and they’re listening to them. That’s good, but that is not going to change the culture within the organization. Those two norovirus outbreaks are cultural things more than anything. That’s not some mysterious bug coming in — it’s employees showing up sick to work. They can say they have strict procedures that sick employees don’t work, but anyone who’s ever worked at a restaurant knows what happens when you don’t show up to work. You’re done.

I don’t see, so far, that they’ve gotten that religious about food safety. They’ve hired some good consultants and they’ll do more testing and that’s all good, but when you’ve got 2,000 locations, that’s a pretty big vulnerability.

And get off my bench, posers.

Norovirus sickens dozens at Seattle retirement community

Norovirus has sickened more than two dozen people at a senior living facility in Seattle.

The outbreak first surfaced on Saturday night at Mirabella Seattle and has continued spreading ever since. On Sunday morning, Seattle firefighters answered Artis Leabo’s 911 call for her 94-year-old husband, Dick.

“He got sick early Sunday morning right after breakfast, he ate his breakfast and things started to explode,” said Leabo.

The elderly man is one of the residents at that Mirabella Seattle, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, who got sick.

Leabo says he remains hospitalized.

Tournaments for kids, meetings for parents, all possibilities to spread Norovirus

We’re going to a hockey tournament next weekend with its 6:30 a.m. game starts and me being grumpy coach, so there will be a lot of eating in unfamiliar spots.

dp.hockey.dec.15As a motto of faith-based food safety, I hope no one will get sick.

Health officials in New York state are investigating what caused some of the hundreds of parents and children attending a Rochester dance competition to become ill.

The Monroe County Health Department says it’s too early to determine a cause, but officials say they suspect norovirus caused several people to fall ill after attending last weekend’s event at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

Work crews spent Tuesday scrubbing the venue’s walls, floor and ceiling with bleach. A Rotary Club luncheon scheduled Tuesday was cancelled as a precaution.

Officials say around 700 children and adults attended the competition, some traveling from Buffalo and Canada. The number of people who reported getting sick hasn’t been released.

Health department official say norovirus causes vomiting and diarrhea that typically lasts for a couple of days.


Wedding ‘nightmare’ as 20 guests get Norovirus in UK

A bride and groom’s wedding celebrations turned into “a nightmare” after around 20 guests were later struck down by the winter vomiting bug.

ask_me_about_my_explosive_diarrhea_tshirt-p2354413693811905333sgf_400The Dundee couple were also affected by the outbreak of norovirus, with people advising the couple of their situation after the occasion.

Heather Albin and Steven Campbell, who were married at the Westpark Conference Centre, in Perth Road, described the aftermath of the event as a “nightmare”.

Bride Heather said: “We had an amazing day but a couple of days later we were hearing that many of our guests had been hit by acute sickness and diarrhea.”

She said that she and her new groom had also been unwell, adding: “I got it first, followed by Steve.

“At the beginning of January, around 20 of our guests had been in touch to say they and their families were feeling terrible — it’s been a nightmare.

“So many of the people who attended the wedding were affected that we wondered if it could have been something we ate at the wedding.

“However, I have now been told it is more likely to be something viral.”