Undercooked eggs in rattlesnake cake linked to salmonella outbreak at fancy Colorado restaurant; dozens sick

I don’t know what rattlesnake cake is but like other cakes, it contains eggs – eggs that need to be cooked to reduce the risk of salmonella.

CBS4 in Denver reports more than two dozen people who ate at The Fort in Morrison, Colorado, last month got sick (there’s a photo gallery and it apparently involves patrons wearing hats).

Officials believe it was caused by undercooking eggs — in particular for one specialty of the house. So far there are eight confirmed cases of salmonella and 20 listed as probable.

The Fort is designed like, uh, a fort from the 1800s and its cuisine reflects the period. In 1997 at the Summit of the Eight, then President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin were among those who dined there.

According to the menu, the “Diamondback Rattlesnake Cake (similar to a crab cake) topped with a sweet and spicy avacodo relish and cilantro micro greens, served with Dixon chile aoli. $25 (subject to availability).”

Dr. Mark Johnson, Jefferson County Health executive director, said

"Testing did show that the batter that was used in preparation of one of the foods did have eggs in it that did test positive for the same type salmonella that the case had."

The restaurant quickly removed the item from its menu, but one person CBS4 spoke to who did not eat the rattlesnake cakes became ill with the salmonella bacteria and had to be hospitalized several days.

Through reservations the Jefferson County Health Department tracked down some 90 people who dined at the restaurant. It did not issue a public warning and the restaurant was not closed.

Holly Arnold Kinney, who describes herself as the Proprietress of The Fort Restaurant, said in a statement,

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to our customers who were affected by this illness. We hold the highest standards and consider each customer a guest in our home, The Fort. These were isolated confirmed cases of food borne illness. The one food item suspected was immediately removed from our menu. We are working closely with the Jefferson County Health Department adhering to all recommendations to make our preparation of food as safe as possible. There are no other concerns. I’m sorry we are not able to provide you with an on-air interview. Contact the Jefferson County Health Department for any other information."

The Proprietress scores well for a strong opening statement of empathy but low for the fluff about standards, especially if 27 people are barfing and especially if the cause is something as routine as eggs. The Proprietress demonstrates how the rattlesnake cakes are made on The Today show, below, in April.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time