The Denver Post reports the family of a 14-year-old Denver boy hospitalized weeks ago after ingesting E.coli-tainted food filed suit Thursday in Arapahoe County against the Vietnamese restaurant where he ate, alleging a pattern of recklessness in how food is prepared and handled.
The restaurant, Pho 75 on South Havana Street in Aurora, was allowed to re-open Wednesday, five days after it was shuttered by Tri-County Health Department officials who determined four people — all of them under 18 — were infected with the same strain of E. coli-O157:H7 after eating there sometime between May 24 and June 10.
Officials said the restaurant Tuesday passed an inspection for cleanliness and that employees were trained in proper food handling practices.
The illnesses occurred just three months after health officials cited the restaurant for a number of foodborne safety risks during a routine inspection, then gave Pho 75 employees extensive training on safe-food handling, officials confirmed Thursday.
“Rather than just check the box, we really spent some time in there to teach them,” said Brian Hlavacek, director of environmental health at Tri-County. “We really did quite a bit of teaching and education on the trends we were seeing and we spent the extra time with them.”
But because Colorado is like Canberra, mere mortals who spent their money on a meal at Pho 75 wouldn’t know the restaurant had a history of sucking at safety, because the governor got rid of restaurant inspection disclosure at the door.
Noah Thompson ate there on May 24 with his parents, who also were sickened though not to the extent Thompson suffered, the lawsuit alleges.
Thompson remains hospitalized with complications from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a sometimes-lethal affliction that comes from ingesting E. coli-tainted food. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to HUS, for which there is no cure.
Thompson’s father, Marc Thompson, told The Denver Post his son nearly needed a blood transfusion and is finally improving. He said the experience “really scared us and made us think twice about what we’re eating.”
Attorneys for the family said vegetables were the common ingredient in the foods they ate at Pho 75, and that each ordered a different item. Thompson had eaten a noodle bowl, attorneys said.
“From what I see from the (inspection) reports, it’s no surprise there was an outbreak,” said Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who is representing Thompson. “Perhaps the question is why were they still open?”