EVOO outbreak not confirmed, looks like scombroid

WRAL in Raleigh reports that the cause of an outbreak of a foodborne illness in 10 patrons of EVOO may never be found. 

Andre Pierce, Wake County’s director of the environmental health and safety division says regardless of the outcome [of the test results], he’s confident the problem was created at the restaurant.

“If you had some source issue with a product, you would expect to have calls around the state,” Pierce said. “We didn’t have anything like that …So we believe there’s something that was going on possibly at that facility that was the problem. Pierce suspects a toxin or chemical caused the sickness, perhaps through cross contamination.

Incident reports from Wake County show all of the customers who became ill ate salads. A sample of tuna was sent for testing.

“This appears to be a classic case of histamine fish poisoning,” said North Carolina State University microbiologist Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, who 5 on Your Side asked to review the reports. "Scombrotoxin fish poisoning is probably the leading cause of seafood associated food-borne illness,” Jaykus said.

Scombrotoxin fish poisioning is caused by histamine and is often caused by temperature abuse of fish. Illnessess are similar to allergic reactions and can strike patrons quickly. Gotta keep that fish cold to reduce the risk.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.