Iwaspoisoned.com, the crowdsourcing site for safer dining, was correct in finding norovirus was making people sick after they ate at the Weston Jimmy John’s near Wausau, WI.
The Marathon County Health Department reports a norovirus outbreak was responsible for making about 100 people since April 7. The department began collecting reports from people who picked up food from the nationally franchised sandwich shop shortly before becoming ill.
The department is conducting a food illness outbreak response over those complaints from people with norovirus symptoms. It collected stool samples from some of the sickened, and they tested positive for the virus.
The owner of the Weston Jimmy John’s franchise also said one employee tested positive for norovirus.
After the health department found the Jimmy Johns should be disinfected and any contaminated food discards, franchise owner Brian Mack closed for several hours for deep cleaning. He said food safety is “not negotiable in our business.”
The Wisconsin outbreak was identified by iwaspoisoned.com, a crowdsourcing site that is now delivering surveillance into public health in 46 states in the United States.
Within days after April 7, iwaspoisoned.com founder Patrick Quade collected data on illnesses among patrons of the Jimmy Johns franchise along with follow up reports that norovirus was to blame.
The crowdsourcing site has collected thousands of reports of foodborne illnesses from individuals across the United States since 2009. It is expanding with a custom alert service for state health departments. The consumer reporting website has played a signifiant role in identifying some restaurant-based outbreaks, including those involving the Chipotle Mexican Grill in the last half of 2015.
“This real-time information provides a wider range of information data to help local agencies better manage food illness outbreaks,” Quade told Food Safety News last year. “It also supplements existing reporting channels and serves to corroborate their own reporting systems.”
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