30 ill with salmonellosis in linked to Fuego’s Tortilla Grill in College Station, Texas

Brazos County, Texas is back in the food safety news again. A year after the famed taco-eating press conference (Since everybody, I’m sure, would want to know the name of the restaurant, I went by there right before I came. I got a beef taco, so here it is.”) the Brazos County Health Department has connected 30 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium Ohio to a Fuego’s Tortilla Grill. According to WTAW,  a specific food source has yet to be identified but multiple food samples tested positive for the outbreak strain. l

Through the course of the food borne outbreak investigation, Fuego’s Tortilla Grill Restaurant became of statistical significance. Environmental samples were obtained from the restaurant 05/13/2014.

Today, the DSHS Laboratory reported that 4 of the 36 samples obtained from the restaurant tested positive for Ohio strain. A specific exposure source, such as food handling procedures, food supply or an infected employee has not been specifically identified, but is currently under investigation.

BCHD is working very closely with Fuego’s Restaurant to find the source of bacteria, and how to prevent this type of event from recurring. Fuego’s Restaurant’s management has been cooperative during this investigation, and has closed voluntarily today, when they received the news about the lab samples.

The Eagle, a College Station newspaper, also reported that Fuego’s Tortilla Grill had reopened following a through scrubbing.

“We’re owning up to this,” owner Paul Moler said following a news conference by the Brazos County Health Department. “We’re not a victim here.”

“All we can do is move forward, but I guarantee you Fuego will open its doors the best it’s ever been, and we will continue to give fresh, quality value at a great price. We’re not going to compromise. We’re not going to cut corners.”

On Friday, upon learning the results of the samples taken on May 13, Fuego voluntarily closed its doors for the day in order to clean and implement changes in food handling, as required by county health officials. Those requirements included a thorough cleaning of the premises by employees followed by an outside cleaning crew, the disposal of all open and prepared foods, as well as all cutting boards — some of which had tested positive for the bacteria.

“This happens,” Sullivan said, noting that Salmonella is a common bacteria found in most kitchens. “This happens with well-intentioned restaurants doing the best they can, so we work together … to come up with best practices and to learn from these types of things.”

Salmonella may be common in kitchens (especially on incoming ingredients and poorly washed hands of staff) but good restaurants have food safety management strategies to keep it off the plates of their patrons.

When health types choose restaurants over public health; parents of boys sickened from E. coli insulted by news conference

People are never as funny as they think they are; I especially ingrain that message into public health students and professionals, because when little kids are really sick, humor don’t go over too well.

But Dr. Eric Wilke, with the Brazos County Health Department in Texas, next door to Texas A&M where beef is best, thought it would be appropriate to do his own see-I’m-eating-this-it-must-be-OK routine favored by politicians to endorse the safety meatwad.raw.hamburgerof a food product stigmatized – usually rightly so – by an outbreak.

The County has been investigating the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that sickened at least 10 people for two weeks, but adamantly refused to release details about the restaurant and supplier link.

Today, Dr. Wilkie began a press conference by taking a bite of a ground beef taco from fingered restaurant, Coco Loco, prior to making that announcement.

“Since everybody, I’m sure, would want to know the name of the restaurant, I went by there right before I came. I got a beef taco, so here it is.”

Wilke paused to chew the taco before continuing with the announcement at the news conference.

“The restaurant is Coco Loco. If you want to meet there tomorrow, we could go eat lunch. I shouldn’t have taken a big bite while I’m on camera.”

Judge for yourselves in the news clip from KHOU 11, below.

The parents of an 18-month-old and a 4-year-old who were sickened from E. coli were disgusted by the failed flair.

Parents Greg and Alissa Melton feel Dr. Wilke should’ve got straight to the facts.

“If his kids were in that situation, in the hospital for a month, it wouldn’t have been such a joking matter,” said Greg Melton.

Last week, Melton’s 4-year-old son Jack was released from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

On Monday, the same day as the news conference, his 18-month-old son Noah was released.

“They seemed more concerned about saving face for the restaurant than the critical care my kids were in,” said Greg Melton.

Thanks to Marler for forwarding the clip, and thanks to Dr. Wilkie, for providing a textbook example of how not to do food safety risk communication that will be used for years.