NBC News asks the right question:
If a restaurant in your neighborhood were temporarily closed because it made people sick, wouldn’t you want to know?
The Orange Health Department told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters they have no right to that information.
Thankfully, one of the victims, Kamran Niazi, came forward recalling the effects of three slices of chicken pizza from Oregano Joe’s on Boston Post Road in Orange.
“I had 104-degree fever, diarrhea – extreme diarrhea – extreme vomiting. Niazi said an ambulance took him to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he spent almost a week in the Intensive Care Unit.
But when he was released from the hospital, Niazi couldn’t get any information on his case from the Orange Health Department, even though inspectors had called him with questions while he was hospitalized.
The Orange Health Department and the state DPH cite several statutes that they said forbid them from speaking with the Troubleshooters about any information in a food-borne illness case.
The Orange Health Department told the Troubleshooters it has ordered Oregano Joe’s to close down twice, once for a day on May 30 and then again on June 20 for a span of five weeks. But the department won’t say why.
“The public health department is supposed to help us. I think it’s a disaster,” said John Tomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University. Thomas said what the Orange Health Department is doing isn’t serving anybody.
“I think it’s absolutely, completely wrong. The government statute does mandate privacy and confidentiality for records, but only records that the health department obtains in a study designed to reduce mortality and morbidity, that is death and illness in a particular setting, and this is not that kind of study,” he said.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission against the Orange Health Department for failing to disclose basic information on the nature of the Oregano Joe’s closings and the number of people who may have become ill like Niazi.