Contaminated well water shuts Massachusetts Roy Rogers

I found a passion for food safety in 2000. I was working as a summer student for Doug, scouring the inter webs for news on food-related risks, when an E.coli O157 outbreak linked to Walkerton Ontario’s town water system hit. The bacteria was introduced into an intake well after heavy rains washed in the pathogen and poor operators, the Koebel brothers who managed the town’s water system, failed to follow safety procedures and were negligent. Almost 2500 were ill and seven residents died.

Since then, I’ve been leery of untreated well water. My in-laws live in rural Southern Ontario and have a well, they don’t treat or test the water. I won’t drink the water myself or let our boys have it.
Restaurants operating on wells can also have avoidable problems as the safety of a main ingredient in their fare is sort of out of their control.

According to The Telegram, a Sturbridge, MA Roy Rogers restaurant was closed last week after their well tested positive for coliform and E. coli.

Routine testing done by a contractor for the restaurant, at 234 Haynes St. (Route 15), found the E. coli and coliform bacteria, which can cause intestinal distress, prompting the restaurant to close on Wednesday and notify the local Board of Health and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP issued a boil-water order, meaning that no water could be served to the public without being boiled.
The agency also ordered the restaurant to post the boil-water order, disconnect its ice machines, chlorinate the well and 20,000-gallon storage tank, flush the system until the chlorine is gone, and then collect five bacteria samples in a row both from the well and from the distribution system.

Once both rounds of samples come back negative, the boil order will be lifted, the agency said.

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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.