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article imageBi-coastal Salmonella outbreak involves Fig & Olive restaurants

By Karen Graham     Sep 26, 2015 in Food
The Fig & Olive restaurant chain has been linked to Salmonella outbreaks in both Los Angeles, California and Washington, D.C. All the cases occurred during late August and early September this year.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that two New York-based Fig & Olive restaurants on opposite sides of the country have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak, one in Washington DC's City Center and the other, on Melrose Place in West Hollywood.
In the multistate investigation that includes the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the DC Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS), the CDC and FSIS, it was determined the Salmonella enteriditis strain isolated from human samples of patrons who ate at the two restaurants was the same.
At the restaurant in West Hollywood, 20 patrons with clinical Salmonella infections reported they had eaten at the restaurant between September 6 and September 11, 2015. Of the 20 cases, nine have been confirmed using laboratory tests to have Salmonella in their stool samples.
However, the Washington D.C. outbreak sickened 160 people in over five states, according to the Food Poisoning Bulletin. Bill Marler, a Seattle-based food safety attorney who represents clients sickened in the Washington D.C. outbreak said, “It seems a bit more than a coincidence that the same restaurant is having salmonella issues on each coast."
The investigation is now being coordinated by the CDC as a "multistate investigation," because other states with Fig & Olive restaurants are reporting Salmonella cases associated with people eating at the facilities.
The DC DOH said last week the culprit in the outbreak at the City Center restaurant had been identified and removed. The two items are truffle fries and mushroom croquettes, both fried using truffle oil. But realistically, the source of the contamination has yet to be identified. The menu items have been removed from the West Hollywood site as well.
It was noted by the PritzkerOlson law firm’s website: "There has not been a recall because Fig & Olive makes their truffle oil, according to the California Department of Environmental Health and Acute Communicable Disease Control."
Investigators are looking into common suppliers of both restaurants, including produce suppliers. Readers may remember the Salmonella outbreak recently linked to cucumbers imported to the U.S. from Mexico, and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of California. But the strain identified was Salmonella poona.
There is also an ongoing investigation of a Salmonella outbreak linked to tomatoes served in Minnesota Chipotle restaurants. While these cases have not been linked, we do know that produce is shipped nationwide, not only to retail stores but to restaurants and other facilities, like hospitals, nursing homes and the like.
Representatives for Fig & Olive told The LA Times: "A week ago, we voluntarily closed our West Hollywood location for a brief time after some diners and employees reported they had become sick. We immediately hired a third-party food safety firm and worked with the Public Health Department in Los Angeles to address the situation."
More about salmonella outbreak, bicoastal, cdc and fda, salmonella enteritidis, fig & olive
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