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Newly Revealed Salmonella Outbreak Linked to CA Deli in Summer of 2014

An outbreak of Salmonella linked to Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, sickened 21 people this past summer, but it was never announced to the public, according to documents obtained in a lawsuit by food safety law firm Marler Clark.

Public health officials in California first caught on to the outbreak in July 2014, when they found seven patients infected with Salmonella Montevideo who had all eaten at Brent’s Deli just before falling ill. Ultimately, they discovered 21 patients, including two employees, with one of two strains of Salmonella Montevideo.

Eight patients were hospitalized. Illnesses developed between April 30 and Aug. 15, 2014.

Public health officials never announced the outbreak to the public. Its first mention came Wednesday on the blog of food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose Seattle law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.

According to Marler, he received the documents after being retained by a California-based lawyer and his client, a patient sickened in the outbreak.

As of press time, the California Department of Public Health has not made an official response regarding why the outbreak was not publicly reported.

After discovering the outbreak, the Ventura County Environmental Health Division conducted two inspections at the restaurant, both times finding a number of “major” violations related to unsanitary equipment, inadequate employee hand-washing, and improper cooling procedures for potentially hazardous foods. After two additional inspections in late July and August, officials found violations related to improper hot-holding and thawing.

On Aug. 12, the restaurant closed for thorough cleaning while inspectors tested employees, food, and environmental samples from the restaurant for the outbreak strain. While none of the food or environmental samples tested positive for Salmonella, two employees did.

Officials found no violations at the restaurant during a subsequent inspection on Sept. 12, and the outbreak was considered over in October after no new illnesses had appeared since August.

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