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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Orange County Health Officials Continue to Hide Name of Restaurant Linked to E. coli Outbreak

I loved this piece by Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly:

IndigestionThe OC Restaurant Where Customers Got Sick With E. coli in April–And That OC Health Care Officials Don’t Want You to Know About

Some time in April, nine customers at a restaurant in Orange County got sick with E. coli that was in their lettuce. The lettuce came from Amazing Coachella, Inc., and eaters in Canada also fell ill, with the OC restaurant being the only culprit. The restaurant closed for a couple of days, then opened, and that was that.

The name of the restaurant? The Orange County Health Care Agency never revealed it when the outbreak occurred, and doesn’t want you to know about it, now or ever. 

The story was first broken by Food Safety News in July, and they followed up yesterday with an outrageous quote from OC HCA spokesperson Deanne Thompson stating that releasing the name of the offending restaurant would “not serve a useful purpose.”

Excuse me?! This is public information, and crucial information, at that: diners deserve to know what restaurant served contaminated lettuce. Besides, the OC HCA always releases the names of restaurants it shuts down for even the most minor of infractions, yet Thompson told Food Safety News that they didn’t reveal the E. coli culprit because it participated fully with their investigation. There wasn’t even an alert that E. coli-contaminated lettuce was in the county–a government cover-up if ever there was one

Sorry, Deanne, but you are in no position to decide what restaurants get protected by ustedes, and what restaurants don’t. I’ve seen your inspectors shame mom-and-pop ethnic restaurants because they didn’t place their kitchen soap in the proper place. You guys just drove off a bunch of LA-based luxe loncheras from OC because they didn’t match up to your exacting, hypocritical standards. You’re lucky I’m currently in the salt mines, but trust me: once I get a public-records request form, I’m getting the name of that restaurant.

In the meanwhile, gentle readers: did you notice any restaurants mysteriously closing in April for a couple of days? Tell us more…

And, Tip o’ the Pen to Food Safety News.  My guess is that if you searched the Orange County Restaurant Inspection Website you could find the name of the offending restaurant – woops, this is what comes up:

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I would look for a restaurant visit in May, June or July – unless “maintenance” is an Orange County word for deletion?

  • Sam

    Be careful in “the OC” Bill, I understand their law enforcement agencies can be rather enthusiastic when it comes to enforcement techniques!