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Update: Seattle restaurant linked to E. coli cluster allowed to reopen

Sept. 16 update: The Matador restaurant in Seattle has been inspected and given approval to reopen as of 2 p.m. Thursday, according to an update from Public Health — Seattle & King County.

“They have thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the restaurant, and all opened and prepared food has been discarded,” the statement read.

Health inspectors have gone over standard operating procedures and safe food handling practices with the restaurant, including produce-washing, equipment cleaning, and ensuring that ill food workers are excluded from work, the department stated, adding that a follow-up inspection will be conducted in two weeks.

“The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing. To date, we know that of the ten people infected with this strain of E. coli, seven of them ate food from the Matador (including five King County residents). The other three cases, all from outside of King County, are not known to have eaten at the Matador,” the statement concluded.

Previous coverage follows:

The Matador, a Mexican restaurant in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, was shut down on Friday, Sept. 9, as an imminent health hazard and for being the target of an investigation into a local outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections.

Public Health — Seattle & King County ordered the closure by suspending the restaurant’s food permit. The agency first reported the outbreak on Aug. 14 in a statement posted on its website that has since been updated.

matadorballard_406x250The largest food safety agency in Washington state said The Matador is associated with an outbreak dating back to last month that has sickened five people.

Three of the five were hospitalized, and one developed the sometimes fatal kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. All five people have since recovered.

Four of the five who were sickened dined at The Matador on Aug. 14, and the fifth outbreak victim ate at the popular Mexican restaurant on Aug. 22. The first illnesses were reported to public health officials on Aug. 22 and the most recent one was reported on Sept. 6.

Seattle & King County public health officials are awaiting results of laboratory testing before naming the strain of E. coli that caused the inflections.

Initial inspection of The Matador found some faulty equipment and the possibility for cross-contamination of food during handling.

The Matador has been cited 10 times since 2010 for food handling practices which might pose a higher risk of foodborne disease. Six of the 10 involved failure to keep food at sufficiently cold temperatures to prevent bacterial growth.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps with mild or no fever. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most threatened by the pathogen.

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