Twenty-six of online retailer Zappos’ employees Ill with apparent food poisoning

I used to be a mallrat (below, not exactly as shown) and roam shopping plazas looking for stuff like music and clothes, but with no real shopping agenda. The kind of guy that would piss off Ben Affleck. Two things have changed my shopping habits – online retailers and kids. I haven’t purchased much of anything (other than groceries) an actual store for a while. For the past 3 years I’ve done all of my christmas shopping online.

Earlier this year I bought some shoes from Zappos, a cool retailer who ships stuff for free. According to WDRB, Twenty-six Zappos Kentucky warehouse employees were taken to hospital, with an illness that is being reported as food poisoning.

Bullitt County Emergency Manager Director Mike Phillips says they were complaining of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea around 1 a.m. All of the affected employees worked in one section of the facility.

The Bullitt County Health Department is investigating the possibility this is a case of food poisoning, but they have not yet confirmed that.

Officials say there is no threat to other employees, and the facility is open and running as normal.

Update: According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, one of the perks of working for Zappos is that a free lunch is provided 362 days a year to the 2,600 full-time and 2,000 part-time employees.

[Bullitt] County health director Swannie Jett said everyone who was hospitalized was later released.

Jett said the illness likely stemmed from food eaten in the cafeteria inside the company’s main distribution warehouse, one of three warehouses it occupies in Shepherdsville [KY].

The health department is looking at meals served in the lunchroom between Friday and Sunday night.
Health officials began interviewing each of the ill workers late Monday afternoon and are awaiting lab results from area hospitals to determine the cause.

The company threw away the remaining food, which came from Masterson’s Catering, Jett said.
SueannaMasterson, one of the owners of the catering business, said a total of 3,200 people — Zappos workers and Masterson’s staff — ate the same meal when caterers prepared it for various Sunday shifts.

“We feel very confident in our practices here regarding food handling,” Masterson said.

Masterson said the company hired an executive chef specifically for the new Zappos contract and workers have been “more vigilant” about food preparation because it is a new contract.

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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.