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Foodborne Illness at My Restaurant?!?!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have recently (2 weeks)taken over the position as Head Chef/KM of the restaurant I work at. On Sunday (May 7) a friend of mine and two others came to dinner. They had a selection of things and shared almost everything.
Today I found out from my friend that one of the three people in their party became violently ill about 2-3 hours after eating my food.
This person was so sick they went to a hospital and had tests, etc, and is now thankfully OK (Tues May 9).
Apparently the doctors believe it was some kind of Norwalk Virus Variant, but they aren't sure yet.
He ate chicken, salad (strong possible culprit) and some other stuff, no shellfish nor any raw/rare meats.
The victim also contacted the local health department, which has me quite alarmed, but maybe they can determine exactly WTF happened.

I'm obviously very concerned, worried and upset about this, however I did some quick research on the Norwalk and other food borne illnesses, and from what I can gather from the web (and what I learned from Health Dept literature etc., over the years as a cook) is this:

Most if not all FBI takes at least 24-48 hours after ingestion to become symptomatic.

In other words it takes a person at least a day AFTER they eat contaminated food before they get sick.
This would put me and my staff in the clear, right?
The person ate the deadly food the day before eating at my place, correct?
It's all about the timing-of-the-illness vs when-you-ate-what, right?

Sooo, if any of you have had any experiences with this type of thing, please post your experiences. I tried to search the web for examples of 'forensic' investigations of restaurants and foodborne illnesses, but couldn't find anything particularly relevant.

BTW, hello all, this is my first post. I've been thinking about getting online with fellow restaurant colleagues for some time. I'm looking forward to checking this forum out in the future. It looks like one of the better cook's message boards I've seen.
Thanks in advance, Sean
post #2 of 10
hmm, from what i've been taught, any symptoms shown prior to 4-6 hours are generally an allergic reaction (henceforth the "i ate this and my throat closed off etc"). I believe the term is anaphylaxis. In this state, the reaction can progress from severe to life threatening within 20 to 30 minutes

but anyway,,...
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
post #3 of 10
I am not an expert!! but I do have a lot of experience and a very close association with our local health department and I carry a State manufacturing permit.
I first thing for you to do is to go through all prepared and unprepared foods, foom the loading dock to the diningroom. I can say with pretty good resourses that this person did not get sick from your food. That does not rule out food that may have come in contact with dirty surfaces. Check all equipment including knife kits. Check all employees for sores or lseions.
Last but not least, believe it or not, the health department is not some huge bear thatr is going to attack you. Call them and request a representitive come on to the property to go through it with you. Think twice if you place is dirty though. The best respoince to this situation is reactionary not worry.
Document all your searches on the odck,storeroom,restaurant,employees etc.
I would guess that this person injested something a day or so before, but you know the doctors sometimes aren't up on FBI. Also, Do not be criticle for this person contacting the health dept. If you ever had a severe FBI you want to get to the bottom as fast as possible
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Follow up:
It appears we are in the clear...But, the poor guy is STILL in the hospital, however-they think it's E Coli. :eek: He stopped at a truck stop/fast food joint with filthy rest rooms on I-90 they day before he ate at our place.
Unfortunately, most people who get sick instinctvely blame the last place they ate at when in fact it was probably something a day or two earlier.
I am relieved, but it's a VERY good lesson regarding food safety.
BTW, the health dept has not contacted us yet. I heard about this incident thru my friend, not professionally, at work. In other words, the HD knew we weren't the culprits, and didn't contact our restaurant at least not yet anyway, so nobody knows but me (no bad rumors or publicity).

I feel really sorry for the guy....
post #5 of 10
Where are you Sean? You know there's a ground beef recall in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri right?
post #6 of 10
This must have been a horrible experience for you. I know how it would affect me. Advice above is good advice, involve the HD as soon as you know. The likelihood of infection manifesting in such a brief time is very very rare. It would have to be well entrenched bubonic plague or something. And then we would all know. PDQ. The other resto should know too. They will be grateful for the chance to examine their systems.
post #7 of 10
Anaphalytic shock, my youngest daughter has a nut allergy. It shows within minutes. Hives on a mild exposure, and her throat closing off on a severe. anytime I see no onions, garlic, nuts, etc on a ticket I immediately find the server and find out what it is about. I have refused to make a ticket until I find out. And yes, I have had people say they are allergic to certain things. Myself, I take it very seriously.
My life, my choice.....
My life, my choice.....
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm in Madison WI. The guy thinks he got got sick from a truck stop type place somewhere north of Chicago the day before he ate at our place. He's in a hospital in Oconomowoc WI.
The HD didn't call our resto. We are totally in the clear, apparently.

Correction: I found out from my friend that the poor guy is STILL in the hospital! (as of wed. afternoon)...yikes....E COLI!:( but it seems he's OK...
I must say I am relieved it's not my kitchen at fault.....
post #9 of 10

Nobody gets sick at home...

Something similar happened to me, somebody claimed to get sick 2-3 hours after having breakfast at my place on a Wednesday morning. Bright and early on Thursday, two health inspectors arrived shortly after I walked in the kitchen. They told me that:
  1. it takes at least 8 hours to get sick from bad food.
  2. what can make a person sick that fast are open wounds in the kitchen, and improperly handled baked goods. (I had no problems there, perhaps the one day I didn't have a 'wound' of some sort)
  3. Nobody ever admits that they may have made themself sick at home, but the health inspector seemed to think that this was generally the case.
As it turned out, the guy that complained, a regular that complained about everything anyway, did not take his medication for diabetes that day, and the elevated sugar made him a bit crazy.

From that day forward, if a diabetic asked for a waffle, my waitress would say something like, "Two eggs over with bacon and wheat it is, Jerry."

Hope it's OK to post to a board that has been dead for a week, I thought that it might be good to let everybody know that diabetics are evil. :D

Hope that guy is out of the hospital now, it's been over a week now.
Will work for a bed and shower... I want to find a place to live that isn't Vermont. I am interested in seeing a few sites.
Will work for a bed and shower... I want to find a place to live that isn't Vermont. I am interested in seeing a few sites.
post #10 of 10
I remain certain that the raft of allergies, and so on are the result of the the additives we eat. In every type of food it seems. I know it sounds fpippant, but maybe the day will come when we have to get our guests to fill in medical forms before we can serve them. :look:
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