2-year-old on life support in Texas after contracting E. coli

An Ennis family says the CDC is investigating after their 2-year-old was exposed to a dangerous strain of E.coli.

Landon Huston is now on life support at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

“He’s usually up, rambunctious, running around,” said his mother, Lindsey Montgomery. “I’m ready for my little boy to be back.”

The family took a trip to Oklahoma two weeks ago, cooling down in a hotel pool and at a natural spring.

“I’d never heard of people swimming and get E. oli,” said his father, John Huston.

Unfortunately, many, many people have been identified as getting sick with Shiga-toxin producing E. coli from swimming, water parks, or water supplies.

“Three, four days later, Landon’s got fever, diarrhea, really sick,” said Montgomery.

But by the time a test confirmed E.coli, his kidneys were shutting down. Montgomery said the CDC interviewed her trying to determine the source of the infection.

“They asked me where he had been, what food he had ate, any restaurants,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Children’s Health Chief of Pediatric Infections Diseases, said it’s normal for a case like this to trigger a public health investigation.

“That suggests that there’s some contamination somewhere. It’s usually water or food and typically that means it’s not just one individual who’s been exposed,” he said.

Dallas restaurant inspections suffered as City Hall diverted revenue

As small producers in Austin complain about government regulation limiting local sales, it was revealed the city of Dallas has diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees intended to pay for restaurant inspections  for the last two years.

The Dallas Morning News reports the money, paid by restaurant owners, should have helped fund a robust inspections program.

Instead, it helped shore up a struggling city budget while hundreds of restaurants did not get their required twice-a-year inspections and more than 240 restaurants went a full year without seeing a single inspector.

City officials say the problem revolves around the difficulty of adjusting the fees restaurants are charged each year. They note that, in 2007 and 2008, when the city did a far better job of inspecting restaurants than it did in 2011 and much of 2012, taxpayers had to supplement the program to the tune of more than $2.7 million.

“We reduced staffing across the board in all of these programs because we had a budget crisis. Yes, we could have done the program better. But we also did not charge [restaurant owners] more when the fees didn’t cover the program. And I think that’s an important point,” said City Manager Mary Suhm.

It’s common, though, for taxpayer dollars to subsidize programs such as restaurant inspections, said Robert Bland, chairman of the public administration department at the University of North Texas.

But fees charged to individuals or businesses that support specific regulations should not be used to pay for unrelated programs in the city budget, he said. It appears that is exactly what happened with restaurant inspection fees.

Cowboys receiver: Expect more vomiting

Embrace your vomit. Make it your own. Be proud.

Fox Sports Southwest reports that Cole Beasley, an undrafted rookie out of SMU battling for a spot on the Dallas Cowboy’s depth chart, is trying to make the most of his opportunity and leaving it all on the field — literally.

Beasley had a breakout game Saturday night against the San Diego Chargers with seven catches for 104 yards. After being tackled in late in the fourth quarter, Beasley made his way to the sideline, but not before losing his lunch on the field.

By Saturday afternoon, the video had gone viral.

“I was tired, but the reason I came off was because I landed on the ball, and the ball knocked the wind out of me and made me have to throw up a little bit,” Beasley told The Dallas Morning News. “Tired had a little bit to do with it, but it was more the ball knocking the air out of me.”

But, should Beasley make the team, evidently we should expect this from him.

"You’ll probably see me throw up a lot more than just then," Beasley said. "I throw up a lot before the games, too. I’m not ashamed of it at all."

Restaurant inspection reality: overworked, pay sucks (and everyone is mad at you): Dallas edition

A city council committee was told Monday that Dallas has all of 15 sanitarians on hand — eight fewer than in 2007. The boom in food trucks and seasonal feeder programs, whatever those are, has resulted in a 300 per cent increase in the number of locations requiring inspection since 2009.

Jimmy Martin, the Director for Code Compliance responsible for inspecting Dallas County bars and restaurants told the committee that only 20 percent of food establishments received two inspections in the last fiscal year, and 241 locations had not been inspected for more than two years.

But the bigger problem was inadequate staffing: nine employees have quit in recent months, and most of those positions remain open.

The last time the city put out the call for sanitarians they got three applications — and the one person offered a job said no.

James Childers, the Assistant Director, told the committeee three weeks ago that six offers had been extended to new inspectors, but low salaries had drawn an under-qualified applicant pool. It turns out that the $17 to $25 an hour Dallas County is offering prospective candidates to deal with the area’s largest and most understaffed restaurant inspection program is a less than attractive offer.

Hundreds of Dallas restaurants not inspected in years; broken system leaves food safety gap


An NBC 5 investigation finds that more than 200 Dallas restaurants have not been inspected in at least two years.

The city of Dallas has been scrambling to inspect hundreds of restaurants because of an NBC 5 investigation.

NBC 5 discovered that the city’s inspection system has broken down so badly that some restaurants haven’t been checked in years — not even once.

Wherever you eat, you never know what’s happening in the kitchen. That’s why cities have inspectors — to check for things that could make you sick.

Or at least that’s what we thought they were doing, until NBC 5 started asking questions and digging through city records.

Our investigation turned up a list of 241 restaurants the city of Dallas hasn’t checked since at least 2009.

NBC 5 followed health inspectors to one of those restaurants, a diner that hadn’t been checked in so long that the owner wondered if the city was ever coming back.

The people in charge of city inspections didn’t know so many were so overdue until NBC 5 pointed it out.

Peter Snyder, an expert in food safety with more than 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry, said what happens in Dallas is typical of many big cities he sees around the country (like Houston, which called on Pete’s expertise a few months ago). Cities have cut back on inspectors and are not able to keep up with the workload, and restaurant customers can end up paying the price.

"You can have massive foodborne outbreaks — which we’re having these days where somebody forgets to wash their hands, and you get hepatitis A in the salsa, and 60 people get sick," Snyder said.

Two years ago, Dallas had 23 restaurant inspectors.

But the city cut five positions, and then five more inspectors left in the last year and a half. They’ve never been replaced.

Today Dallas has 13 people to inspect more than 6,000 restaurants.

Tracey Evers, president of the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association said, "There’s nothing that replaces that one-on-one interaction with the health inspector and the restaurant.”

In Fort Worth, NBC 5’s investigation also found restaurants that haven’t been checked in a long time.

NBC 5’s questions sent the city scrambling to inspect a list of about 50 restaurants it hadn’t visited in at least two years.

And when the inspectors finally went into some of those kitchens, records show they found critical health violations such as no paper towels in the restroom, broken refrigerator thermometers and workers who didn’t have proper training to handle food.

"Certainly we’d like to have more frequent contact and be able to go to these establishments on a more regular basis," said Scott Hanlan, of Fort Worth’s Code Compliance Division.

It now has 13 people inspecting 2,100 restaurants. But the same inspectors are also responsible for checking things such as swimming pools, food trucks and large special events that serve food.

Hepatitis A alert at Gonzalez restaurant in Dallas

If you’ve eaten at Gonzalez Restaurant, 8121 Bruton Road, in Dallas, between January 25-28, you may want to see a doctor.

An employee who was diagnosed with hepatitis A went to work and may have come in contact with customers.

Health-types are working to alert medical care providers to be on the lookout for any customers who may have been infected.

Doggy dining: Dallas update

The Dallas City Council last year passed a measure allowing establishments to obtain doggy dining permits so long as they abided by the city safety and health regulations.

Instead, the effort to create a more urbane atmosphere in Dallas’ dining corridors is, according to The Dallas Morning News, a doggone blunder, and that more than a year later, Dallas hasn’t issued a single dog-on-patio permit, having received only six applications in the first place.

Acknowledging that the ordinance isn’t working, the City Council’s Quality of Life and Government Services Committee on Monday will consider revamping the law in hopes of making it work as intended.

Among the changes the council is scheduled to consider Monday is scrapping a provision requiring restaurants to install doorway-mounted "air curtains" designed to keep dog hair and dander from reaching inside the facility.

Restaurateurs complained that the devices are unsightly, loud and expensive – more than $1,000 in some cases.

They also lamented a provision requiring restaurant employees to clean an outdoor patio every 30 minutes – another provision the council will consider deleting.

If the committee approves the changes, the full council is scheduled to vote on the revised ordinance March 26, according to city documents.