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Issues Of Improper Food Handling At Los Burritos Mexicanos Addressed

Health department officials of DuPage County have released a report on their investigation of Los Burritos Mexicanos – the Lomard, Ill., restaurant at the center of an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in June.

While no specific menu item was identified as the culprit, investigators did find that food handlers weren’t properly washing their hands or washing fruits and vegetables before processing and that they were handling ready-to-eat food with bare hands and improperly washing and sanitizing food contact surfaces.

One cook at the restaurant was found positive for E. coli matching the ill patrons but did not report any symptoms. It’s unclear whether the individual contributed to the outbreak or was simply a victim.

After receiving reports that five individuals had tested positive for E. coli, the DuPage County Health Department traced the source to Los Burritos Mexicanos and closed the restaurant on June 14. Ultimately, there were 52 cases reported — 17 were lab-confirmed with E. coli O157:H7, 20 were probable cases, one was a secondary probable case and 14 were suspect cases.  Ten of these cases were hospitalized, one of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli infection characterized by kidney failure.

On June 27, the restaurant was allowed to reopen after it had been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and employees had attended training on personal hygiene, cross-contamination and temperature control. Health department staff continued to monitor food preparation and provided additional training after Los Burritos Mexicanos reopened. There have been no other complaints of illness associated with the restaurant since then.

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