11 sick in Japan with E. coli O157; steakhouse chain closes all 187 outlets

Pepper Food Service Co said Monday it has closed all of its 187 Pepper Lunch steakhouses in Japan the same day after at least 11 customers developed food poisoning to clean each outlet and ensure hygiene controls are in place.

At least 11 customers have been stricken with E. coli O157 in seven prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, according to the restaurant chain operator and local governments.

Kunio Ichinose, the company president, apologized, saying,

‘‘We will reopen the restaurants as soon as we are fully prepared to do so.’’