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Georgia restaurant linked to company dinner outbreak reopens

Two weeks after reports of food poisoning among Toyo Tire employees who ate catered food at the Georgia company’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner, dozens have been confirmed with Salmonella infections, at least five have been hospitalized, and the implicated restaurant has reopened.

Although a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of the Salmonella, public health officials are confident the illnesses are linked to a Nov. 14-15 event at the tire plant in White, GA. They hope to finish interviewing the 1,800 Toyo employees today, according to a Monday update from the health department. Investigators are trying to narrow down the specific foods eaten by people who became ill and those who did not.

The department has not yet named the implicated restaurant, referring to it only as “the permitted Bartow County restaurant in Cartersville, GA.” However, multiple media reports named Angelo’s New York Style Pizza and Bistro as the caterer.

Restaurant owner Angelo Nizzari issued a statement a week ago through his attorney John T. Mroczko.

“Angelo and his family are heartbroken about the recent incident at Toyo Tire and offer their deepest sympathies and prayers to those who have been affected,” Mroczko said. “This community is their home and their customers are like family to them. As such, the safety of their customers and the quality of their food has always been their highest priority.”

The restaurant announced its reopening on its Facebook page Monday, netting mostly positive comments from loyal customers. A few comments referenced the outbreak and suggested the restaurant operators should take further action to reassure customers and compensate those who became sick.

Inspectors from the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District signed off on Angelo’s reopening today. Employees of the restaurant have received “rigorous training in safe food handling from Bartow County Health Department environmental health specialists,” the department reported Nov. 22.

“The restaurant was re-inspected last Wednesday (Nov. 22) by Bartow County Health Department environmental health specialists and will receive another full re-inspection today,” according to the health district’s Monday update.

“We plan to conclude interviews with Toyo employees who attended the event by end of day Tuesday, Nov. 28, and hope to identify the food product that caused of the outbreak. We will release that information, if conclusive, which it may not be, when available.”

The state health department confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Salmonella when lab tests on samples from multiple sick people returned positive results for the pathogen.

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