I believe the epidemiologists: Boise restaurant linked to Salmonella cases

Last week I spent some time with an old friend who owns a funeral home. Fifteen years ago we spent our time and extra money in the local pub drinking pints and talking trash. As we’ve gotten older our taste has changed; we discussed our chosen professions over a bottle of wine.

As we chatted food safety and death he wanted to know how the disease detectives connected the dots in an outbreak. I gave him a rudimentary explanation of PFGE, genome sequencing, Pulsenet and told him about Bill Keene’s contribution to foodborne epidemiology. He was genuinely interested in learning about how epi folks do their magic, or it may have been the wine.101821776

Here’s today’s example of a cluster of illnesses linked to a restaurant, without a smoking gun, that is garnering further investigation (via the Idaho Statesman).

Five people have reported getting sick from Salmonella poisoning since late February after eating at a Boise restaurant, according to the Central District Health Department.

The agency did not publicly name the eatery Monday, but the owner of Pho Tam on North Orchard Street confirmed to the Idaho Statesman that her Vietnamese restaurant is the one in question.

“I don’t know what happened,” owner Long Doan said. “We try to be careful.”

The most recent sickness took place in mid-March, but wasn’t reported to health officials until Thursday, Health Department spokeswoman Christine Myron said.

Health inspectors last week tested food at the restaurant and did not find any traces of Salmonella or other harmful bacteria, Myron said.

“The cultures that they grew did not come back with any Salmonella, so they’ve not determined a definite source for the Salmonella,” Myron said. “We don’t know exactly how it may have gotten into the food at this point.”

I trust the epi folks.


This entry was posted in Restaurant Inspection, Salmonella and tagged by Ben Chapman. Bookmark the permalink.

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.