Raw is risky: Seattle’s Toulouse-Petit closed during food-poisoning investigation

Toulouse is one of my favorite French cities.

horse_meat_09Why is it the name on a restaurant in Seattle?

Laura Fonda of Queen Anne View reports that Toulouse-Petit Kitchen & Lounge (601 Queen Anne Ave N) has been temporarily closed down by King County heath officials as they investigate possible food poisoning at the restaurant.

According to King County Public Health, six out of seven people from the same party ate at the restaurant and became ill with symptoms consistent with a bacterial infection such as Salmonellosis or Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.  The potential food source is still under investigation, but Public Health notes that the party had consumed food items that may increase the risk of foodborne illness, including raw beef and raw egg.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-5-27-45-pmPublic Health investigated the restaurant today and found “several problems including room temperature storage, inadequate refrigeration and improper cooling of potentially hazardous foods and cross contamination, which resulted in temporary suspension of the restaurant’s permit.”

Of course it never happened before: Dozens sick from Salmonella outbreak at Tennessee fire department fundraiser

State health officials investigated a food poisoning outbreak that sickened potentially dozens of people in Middle Tennessee.

rutherfordcofire5x5The salmonella illness emerged after fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in Rutherford county.

“Salmonella can be very serious and cause death in some people,” said deputy state epidemiologist John Dunn.

No one died, but several people got sick, some hospitalized.

“We know of a number of others — 18 total so far and hearing of more and all attended the Lascassas Fire Department fish fry on September 10th,” said Dunn.

More than 400 people attended the event at the station on Lascassas Pike. The meal included fried fish and chicken along with homemade white beans other sides an array of desserts.

Since then, many were sickened by salmonella and shared their experiences on Facebook.

One woman lost 15 pounds, another ended up in the hospital, and one was sick for over a week and still not 100 percent.

This was the first time something like this has ever happened at a Lascassas Volunteer Fire fundraiser.

 

UK cockroach-infested curry house shut down after insects found crawling in chef hats

And more about those UK chefs.

A cockroach-infested curry house in north-east London has been ordered to shut its doors after it was discovered crawling with insects, including in chef hats.

currySouth Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant Palii Maamala in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, was closed following fears it risked customers’ health.

Food safety inspectors uncovered an infestation of cockroaches and nymphs inside the “filthy” kitchen with droppings found on shelves containing open food and dinner plates.

Insects were also seen living in a box of paper hats worn by the chefs while the cooker was thick with grease in conditions described as “disgusting”.

Containers were encrusted with old food with the filth witnessed across the entire building including an upstairs function room where cockroaches were also found.

Waltham Forest Council issued an immediate hygiene order for the curry house to shut following an inspection on Monday, September 12 over a number of food safety breaches.

The order was received at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday September 14, confirming the closure.

 

UK cafe boss fined £20,000 after failing to act on health and hygiene concerns

About those UK chefs, a café who flouted hygiene and safety rules has been slapped with a £20,000 fine.

crown-cafe-southendThe Crown Café, in Southchurch Road, Southend, were fined after Hygiene Improvement Notices and one Health and Safety Improvement Notice were not acted upon.

During an inspection at the Crown Café in August 2015, a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner from Southend Council found the café had no wash hand basin for hand washing only in the kitchen, no documented food safety management system to ensure the safe production of foods and a lack of maintenance to the electrical installation at the café.

As a result, two Hygiene Improvement Notices and one Health and Safety Improvement Notice were served on The Crown Café/ Bistro Limited for the attention of the owner, Agneska De’Ath (nee Janaszek).

Subsequent visits to the café on September 15 and 18 found the improvement notices had not been acted upon. 

Ms De’Ath (nee Janaszek), who is the director of the Crown Café/ Bistro Limited, and her limited company were found guilty at Southend Magistrates Court on September 14 for two food hygiene offences and one health and safety offence, which occurred at the Crow Café.

Magistrates heard the evidence given by Ms Janaszek and found her and her limited company guilty to three offences. 

Liverpool restaurant fined £14,000

How good are those UK chefs?

(Thanks to the barfblog.com reader who sent this in.)

mouse-chefRed Hot World Buffet in Liverpool One shopping centre was fined £14,000 after inspectors found an infestation of mice in the kitchen. It was also ordered to pay £7,816 costs after admitting breaching health and safety regulations.

The pic (right, exactly as shown) was from the chef’s office, with mouse shit everywhere.

Owners Passepartouts Ltd pleaded guilty to 10 counts at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court after mice droppings and beetle larvae were found during an inspection.

The restaurant closed in June and the owners are now in administration.

Environmental health officers visited the restaurant twice last year.

Live mice were caught on sticky traps and mouse droppings and grease were found next to food containers and near fridges.

BS credentials (journos, ask her a food safety question) Australian resort cited for food service violations

Christopher Walsh of Northern Territory News reports former CLP candidate Carolyn Reynolds has been cited on numerous occasions by the Department of Health for serious food service violations at her Lake Bennett Resort including staff not washing their hands, serving questionable food and keeping an “unsanitary” kitchen.

carolyn-reynoldsEnvironmental Health inspection documents obtained by the NT News show Ms Reynolds was written up in early June for a number of breaches of the Food Act, including not having proper potable water on premises and improper hygiene of employees. A follow-up review of the premises known as “Eagle Nest” restaurant showed serious breaches continued at the resort as late as June 23.

“Observation of staff — no handwashing in between duties,” the follow-up report states. “No soap in soap dispenser.

“Defrosting of foods — to be defrosted in coolroom, at time of inspection chicken breasts were defrosting in sink … not safe.”

The inspection also found expired food was stored in the same place as food she was serving customers. She was lectured then about “best before” and “use by” dates.

Department of Health officials confirmed Ms Reynolds was written-up for violations of the Food Act after “numerous complaints” but that no action was taken and that they “continue to work with the proprietor”.

“Environmental Health officers have visited the premises on a number of occasions, as recent as August and served food improvement notices to address issues identified,” a Health Department spokeswoman said. “The proprietor has taken appropriate follow up action.”

But photos taken last week, seen by the NT News, show unsanitary kitchen conditions remain, including dead cockroaches on shelves, unclean cooking areas, out of date cheeses and mouldy foodstuffs in coolers.

A former employee told the NT News Ms Reynolds would routinely serve old and expired food to customers — as late as last week. The employee also said she personally witnessed “Carolyn preparing food without washing her hands, without wiping down benches and using unclean knives quickly wiped on a dirty tea towel”.

Ms Reynolds denied all the allegations, saying she sacked kitchen staff recently “because some people hadn’t been doing things while I was doing the election”.

She added she is a “certified microbiologist” and knows about food safety. The Australian Society for Microbiology said yesterday they had no record of Ms Reynolds as a member.

“I fully understand all aspects of safe food, unfortunately, we in society probably throw away a lot more food than we should,” Ms Reynolds said. She added that claims she served children expired meat were “rubbish.”

“In no way on earth would I risk my reputation both as a chartered biologist and a business owner and as a person who loves children …” she said. “I would not risk harming children.”

Ms Reynolds, who ran for the seat of Goyder, said she was in “desperate” need of a good chef and that she may be forced to bring cooks in from the UK soon.

And they know what about food safety?

celebrity_chefs4

E. coli outbreak shows need for restaurant grading system

Paula Wissel of KNKX reports the Washington Department of Health is still investigating this month’s E. coli outbreak that forced a Seattle restaurant to close temporarily. The Matador in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has now reopened, but the source of the E. coli that sickened several patrons remains a mystery. Meanwhile, food safety advocates say this latest scare underscores the need for a promised restaurant grading system to be implemented quickly by public health officials.

barf-o-meter_-dec_-12-216x300-216x3001-216x300-1-216x300Back in 1993, Sarah Schacht, along with her mother and little brother, was sickened in the deadly E. coli outbreak linked to undercooked hamburgers at Jack in the Box.  Then, a few years ago, she contracted the foodborne illness again.

“The experience of getting E. coli the second time was much worse. It was feeling like my stomach was being ripped open, I had extreme cramping and I was in and out of the hospital,” Schacht said.

She is one of the primary proponents of restaurants in King County being required to post placards showing what score they received from the health department. She sat on a stakeholders panel convened by the county to come up with a system. Although Public Health of Seattle and King County announced several years ago they were going to implement a system, it has yet to be put in place, which frustrates Schacht.

“They’ve continually rolled back deadlines for this program and so it’s been disappointing to see another outbreak and no posted signs,” Schacht said.

In response, county health officials says they want to make sure that when it launches, the grading system is consistent across eating establishments. The health department has conducted a series of studies to try and figure out how best to obtain that consistency.  A grading system pilot program is scheduled to begin in January.

 

Here’s a couple of suggestions:

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009. The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information. Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

larry-the_-cable_-guy_-health-inspector-213x300-213x3001-213x300-1-213x300The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

 

Owner of filthy UK takeaway ordered to pay £6,000 for disgusting breaches of hygiene

The owner of this disgusting takeaway has been found guilty of serious food hygiene offences following an inspection by Food Safety Officers.

oceana-takeawayMohammed Ejaz, of Oceana Takeaway, appeared before magistrates where he pleaded guilty to seven food safety and hygiene breaches.

The offences included failure to keep the premise and equipment clean and failure to control food safety hazards.

The prosecution against the owner of the takeaway in Ingoldmells was brought by East Lindsey District Council.

Lincoln magistrates fined Ejaz £1,750 with costs of £4,676, plus a victim surcharge of £25.

Laura Hackney, prosecuting on behalf of East Lindsey District Council, said: “The district council was called from a member of the public on January 7 regarding rats at the premises.”

Food safety inspectors found a trail of filth when they inspected the premises, including dirty surfaces and equipment, rusty pizza trays and microwave; and badly scored chopping boards.

Those handling food were not wearing protective clothing and documented food safety procedures were not available.

Oceana Takeaway received a zero out of five food hygiene rating as a result of the inspection.

The district council classified conditions at the takeaway as being capable of causing “adverse effect to individuals”.

Ejaz admitted he had not given the takeaway the attention it needed.

In mitigation, he said: “I do try hard.

“I have spent two years working and I have not made anything.

“My son became ill and it means I have not been able to give the time to the restaurant.”

Ejaz, who is currently living at Ingoldmells Service Station, insisted standards have improved following the inspection in January.

 

100 sickened: Did Salmonella at Trump’s restaurant kill her dad?

After Samantha Allen of The Daily Beast had a chat with me the other morning, she did good journalism and went off on her own, and cited a Trumpism: He likes to eat fast food because “at least you know what they’re putting in it.”

trump-junk-foodKatherine Purgatorio-Howard wishes her father knew what was in the mousse he ate at Trump’s Castle in October 1989, three months before he died.

“It was six figures,” she told The Daily Beast of the settlement her mother reached with the Atlantic City property over the mousse, which New Jersey health officials identified as the source of a salmonella outbreak. “But it didn’t make my father un-dead.”

Last Thursday, the Trump campaign issued—and then quickly deleted—a rant against the “FDA food police,” listing it as one of several “specific regulations to be eliminated” in his new economic plan. Among other things, the campaign whined about the Food and Drug Administration’s standards for “farm and food production hygiene,” safe cooking temperatures, and even “dog food.”

But these are the exact safety measures that help prevent foodborne illness outbreaks like the one that affected the Purgatorio family in 1989. In fact, the Trump business empire has a long and illustrious history of food poisoning cases and safety violations.

According to a 1991 Associated Press report, Kathleen and Thomas Purgatorio, then in their sixties, ate the “salmonella-tainted mousse” at a restaurant called Buffet by the Sea in Trump’s Castle Hotel and Casino on Oct. 16, 1989. Kathleen felt sick afterwards, Purgatorio-Howard recalls, but nowhere near as ill as her father who she told The Daily Beast “went from walking into the hospital to being in intensive care on a ventilator in a coma.”

“He was in critical care from October to December,” Purgatorio-Howard recalled. “We brought him home. We kept him in the living room in a hospital bed. He was in distress the whole time and then, in January, he went back to the hospital and died.”

The following July, according to the AP, the newly-widowed Kathleen and three other plaintiffs sued Trump’s Castle for “nearly $11 million” over the mousse, which the New Jersey Department of Health said in a report had sickened over 100 people—including the Purgatorios—over the span of four days in October 1989. Hers was one of six food poisoning lawsuits filed over the mousse around the same time, the AP reported.

the-7-most-ridiculous-things-donald-trump-has-said-in-the-last-2-weeksThat same July, Trump told the New York Daily News that the Purgatorio lawsuit was “ridiculous” and refuted any link between Thomas Purgatorio’s death and the chocolate mousse.

“If you write that story, there will never be a dime of money spent by my casinos in the Daily News again,” Daily News staff writer Salvatore Arena recorded Trump as saying in a phone interview. “And you can print that.”

Alan Kaplan, an attorney for Trump at the time, told the AP that Thomas Purgatorio’s death was due to a “pre-existing heart condition.” Purgatorio-Howard, now a New Jersey nursing instructor, told The Daily Beast that her father had previously had a heart attack sometime before the trip to Trump’s Castle but maintained that “his symptoms and his organ failure came from the overwhelming salmonella infection.”

Kaplan also told the AP that the salmonella at Trump’s Castle was due to bad eggs from a vendor. If that’s the case, perhaps stricter adherence to FDA “farm and food production hygiene” standards could have prevented the eggs from ever reaching the restaurant.

“People have to be protected,” Purgatorio-Howard told The Daily Beast. “You really can’t have less regulation.”

The case file for Kathleen Purgatorio’s lawsuit was ultimately disposed, according to court records. Purgatorio-Howard told The Daily Beast that the case was settled out of court for “hundreds of thousands” of dollars but could not recall the figure. Attempts to reach attorneys for both parties in order to confirm her estimate were unsuccessful.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a detailed request for comment and the Trump Organization did not have comment at press time. The Atlantic City Licensing and Inspection Department told The Daily Beast that records from this time are no longer available.

But newspaper reports indicate that Trump’s food-related woes only continued in Atlantic City. In 1992, the AP reported that “Donald Trump’s properties have the worst track record for food-related health problems among Atlantic City’s 12 casinos,” citing statements made by city health officials. Between 1984 and that time, the AP noted, there were five salmonella outbreaks at Trump properties, resulting in several temporary closures.

 “We find it highly unusual that most of our problems in Atlantic City have been associated with the Trump properties,” then-Atlantic City health department official Denise Nelson told the AP. “The physical part of the [establishments] is top-of-the-line but it all boils down to extremely poor food handling.”

The AP report states that “Sharon Pearce, a spokeswoman for the Trump Taj Mahal, disagreed with [Nelson’s] assessment, but refused to elaborate.”

In his now-retracted anti-FDA screed, Trump complained about “inspection overkill” but restaurant inspections like these can prevent deadly salmonella outbreaks. The CDC estimates that 19,000 people are hospitalized and 380 people die due to salmonella every year. A total of 3,000 Americans die from foodborne illness each year.

As Trump’s business empire grew, so did the list of food safety violations. In November 2012, the DJT restaurant in the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas received a staggering 51 violations “including month-old caviar and expired yogurt,” according to another AP report.

Public records from the Southern Nevada Health District show that DJT was indeed closed on Nov. 2 of that year with 51 violations during a routine inspection, reopening later that day with only 6 violations.

But the sudden closure and reopening did not escape the notice of local news station KTNV, which bestowed the dubious honor of a “Dirty Dining” award on the restaurant.

“The DJT restaurant in the Trump hotel is described on its website as ‘elegant’ and ‘in a class by itself,’ KTNV investigative reporter Darcy Spears announced in her exposé. “It is indeed in a class by itself this week, receiving the highest number of demerits of all restaurants health inspectors visited.”

Spears went on to list the many expired foods that health inspectors found at the DJT restaurant, including veal stock, tomato sauce, caviar, cranberry juice, duck, yogurt, peanut dressing, and black bean chili. Spears further reported that inspectors found “eggs, cream, cut tomatoes, potatoes, and sausage” were being kept at “unsafe temperatures.” As the AP noted, they also found “no measures to destroy parasites in undercooked halibut and salmon.”

In last week’s anti-FDA rant, the Trump campaign specifically highlighted required “food temperatures” as an example of potential over-regulation.

DJT ultimately provided KTNV with a statement that said, “We take these situations very seriously and all adjustments were made immediately. DJT opened within a few hours that same evening. We greatly value our guests, and delivering an exceptional experience to them is our top priority.”

But one of the worst brushes with health inspectors hit Trump even closer to home. As The Daily Beast has previously reported, public New York City health department records show that the Trump Cafe and Grill in Trump tower received 45 violations during an ungraded inspection in October 2015. That’s counting five “critical” violations including unapproved shellfish, a lack of appropriate “metal stem-type” thermometers to check cooking temperatures, and unsanitary wiping cloths. Two months later, the Trump Cafe and Grill scored only 12 violations and received an “A” grade.

But this May, another ungraded inspection found “live roaches present in [the] facility’s food and/or non-food areas” of the Trump Cafe and Grill and determined that the restaurant was not “vermin proof,” meaning that there were “conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.” One week prior to that inspection, Trump had tweeted a picture of himself eating a taco bowl prepared in that restaurant. Yum.

Know thy suppliers: Seattle restaurant Matador reopens after E. coli outbreak

Following an E. coli outbreak that sickened seven people, the Matador is back open. The favorite Ballard restaurant opened its doors Saturday morning after a week-long closure.

matador-seattleOn Thursday, public health officials inspected the restaurant and found that it had been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

One of the E. coli victims is a 16-year-old girl who was hospitalized after becoming anemic and suffering kidney failure. Her family is suing the Matador for the outbreak.

Elisa Hahn of King 5 reports on Friday, Matador’s chief culinary officer agreed to allow our cameras inside and talk about the investigation.

“We’re proud of the way we operate our kitchen and the cleanliness and sanitation practices that have always been in place,” said Tom Small. “When something like this happens, and you realize there isn’t anything you can do to prevent it, it’s incredibly impactful.”

Back in the kitchen, the staff was deseeding jalapenos and roasted peppers. The prep work in a Mexican restaurant is a time-consuming process. Just like these jalapenos, Matador has gone through a gutting.

“We’re down to zero product, starting from scratch,” said one employee.

After grilling the staff about possible illnesses, investigators are now leaning away from blaming food handling, focusing more on products and suppliers.