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Hawaiian E. coli Outbreak Linked to Peppa’s BBQ

Peppa’s on King Street in Honolulu is one of the places Koreans go for real Korean food.  In March, many people who ate at Peppa’s came down with E. coli O157:H7.

When Koreans and those with a taste for Korean foods get a hankering for fish jun or meat jun, Peppa’s Korean BBQ is the place to go.

korean-bbq-ecoli-featured.jpgA Hawaiian / Korean food writer described jun this way: “Thin slices of beef marinated in shoyu based blend with garlic, green onions, pepper and just enough sesame oil to notice, then batter up with flour and egg, then fry till you got an almost thin crispy layer of fried egg with sizzling beef layered between.”

Peppa’s is open again after having its license suspended briefly for cleanup and training after seven of its customers were treated for symptoms of E. coli infection between March 2 and 23.  Four of Peppa’s patrons required hospitalization.

A Notice of Permit Suspension and Order to Cease and Desist was issued April 1 by the Hawaii Department of Health, but Peppa’s license was reinstated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.   It was open in time to serve a lunch crowd of about 30, down from its typical Friday service for 300.

During the brief closure, the restaurant carried out sanitation and training measures for state inspectors.  Patrick Kang, Peppa’s manager, says customers can “trust our food, trust our restaurant.”

On Monday, Kang will be attending a two-day food handling certification course, according Larry Lau, deputy director for environmental health.  Peppa’s was cited for food-handling violations in January, and state inspectors suspect that’s what led to the E. coli problem.

About a dozen food samples were taken from the restaurant, but so far the results have been negative for E. coli. The investigation is continuing.

The closure from Thursday to Saturday morning did give the staff time to disinfect all food contact services, walls and floors, and containers.   Food that was not being stored properly was discarded and steps were taken to insure food is kept at proper temperatures.  The restaurant also installed proper hand-washing facilities.

Peppa’s is located at 1240 South King Street in Honolulu.   Six of the seven people who became ill were residents of Oahu.

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