How to Handle Foodborne Illness Complaints

Foodborne illness and food poisoning is a real problem for restaurants. No owner wants to be responsible for making customers sick. Having one foodborne illness complaint can be very traumatic, but look at what Chipotle dealt with last year—six outbreaks in six months, 500 sick people across 10 states. They went around the horn twice with three of the most common foodborne illnesses: Salmonella, Norovirus, and E. coli. They lost more than $10 billion in stock value alone. Have a Foodborne Illness Response Plan Most small independent restaurants won’t ever have to deal with foodborne illness at the level of Chipotle’s outbreak, but what do they do when they receive just one complaint? … [Read more...]

The Best Way to Protect Your Restaurant from Outbreaks

Today there was yet another restaurant outbreak in the news. Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill in Chicago is suspected in a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli outbreak affecting at least 25 people. Not only that, on June 29, the City of Boston closed the Thai Dish Restaurant for too many food safety violations. Looking at these two examples of foodborne illness outbreaks, they are independent organizations that most likely won’t survive the financial and liability impact of closures and sick customers. Given the high stakes, how could they put themselves in this position? Local independent restaurants across America are having a hard time effectively managing food safety. Many of them don’t have … [Read more...]

Tales of Food Illness: E. Coli & Tuna Scrape

Last June, there were 2 food illness outbreaks that highlighted the complex nature of identifying and tracking food illness outbreaks nationwide. An outbreak relies heavily on each state's foodborne illness surveillance program. Some states are better than others, but as cases grow, it's important to understand there are probably many other unidentified cases not making it on the list, and food safety is at risk with contaminated product still being served. E. Coli O145 Food Illness Outbreak Now at 15 Cases Even though the number of cases is relatively low, what's concerning is that the CDC and state epidemiologists have yet to identify the cause. The cases are spread across 6 states … [Read more...]

Social Media Extortion: Foodborne Illness Edition

Everyone's familiar with the old way of foodborne illness extortion—"You made me sick so give me money or I'll call the health department!" This worked quite well in persuading some managers to give up at least free gift certificates. Now there's a new form of extortion happening by way of social media. The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento, California, was faced with this reality. The owners were contacted by a customer who claimed he became ill by eating in their restaurant. The customer demanded $100, and if they didn't pay up, he would post a bad review on the popular restaurant review site Yelp. If you aren't familiar with Yelp, it's a site that allows users to post reviews … [Read more...]

USDA Outlaws More Strains of Dangerous E. Coli

There are more than 700 strains of E. coli today. Each one affects the body differently. Most are harmless while others can cause death after a long excruciating fight. The most dangerous E. coli strains are from the Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC), and the most common is O157:H7. Until this week, that was the only strain the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) was requiring testing for in raw beef products. Now, after much debate and petitions, 6 more strains of STEC have been added to the list of banned E. coli. It would seem that all E. coli found in food should be banned but that just isn't the case. It costs too much money to test for all strains. What makes the STEC strains … [Read more...]

Food Safety Alert: Bagged Salads Recalled for Listeria

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has warned people not to eat certain bagged salads due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The bagged salads were manufactured by River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC, and was packaged and sold under the following brand names: River Ranch Farm Stand Hy-Vee Marketside Shurfresh The Farmer's Market Cross Valley Fresh n Easy Promark Sysco After routine sampling detected Listeria in 2 packages of shredded iceberg lettuce purchased from retail locations in California and Colorado, River Ranch Fresh Foods initiated a voluntary recall of the bagged salads. A complete list of recalled products that are sold … [Read more...]

Forget Pink Slime, What about Poopy Chicken?

In the last couple of months, the outrage over “safer” beef known as pink slime has been overwhelming, but what about chicken? A shocking report was just released by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) on fecal contamination in retail chicken. In the report, the PCRM uncovered that nearly half the chicken tested was contaminated with feces. The poultry industry has yet to develop methods to make sure the chicken slaughter process doesn’t result in fecal contamination of the chicken. An independent analytical testing laboratory did the testing with chicken from 15 grocery store chains in 10 major cities. Kroger brand actually had 100 percent of their samples test positive … [Read more...]