a four-month period, a popular deli in the Los Angeles area sickened at least 21 people with Salmonella poisoning, but the Ventura County Department of Public Health did not notify the public when the first cases were reported and they began their investigation. A new report by Los Angeles news station NBC4 revealed that Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, had been associated with Salmonella illnesses for months over the course of this past summer and was under an outbreak investigation. But while that investigation was going on, health officials did not announce any illnesses or outbreak investigation to the public. The first public revelation of the outbreak did not come until January 2015, when food safety attorney Bill Marler released health department records obtained as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who contracted Salmonellosis after eating at the deli. The outbreak was then reported in Food Safety News and elsewhere. Now, Marler is representing several people who came down with Salmonellosis after eating at Brent’s. (His law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.) The director of the health department, William Stratton, told the news station that they do not typically alert the public when they are in the midst of an investigation. County health departments for Los Angeles and San Francisco, however, have alerted the public to outbreaks in recent years in an attempt to warn prospective customers about the potential for getting sick, and so that other customers experiencing symptoms will know to seek out medical care. NBC4 found that Brent’s Deli has repeatedly been cited for “major health violations” going back to 2007. The deli was also associated with other Salmonella illnesses in 2007, 2010 and 2013, the station reported. A co-owner of Brent’s told NBC4 that after learning of the outbreak, the restaurant voluntarily closed down, sanitized their facilities, and hired a third-party company to improve their overall food safety. Watch and read the full NBC4 report here.

  • brenda black

    Everything should be reported as soon as possible. People travel and will have every meal in a different state. Awareness is always a good thing to carry in your back pocket.

    • Gary

      Completely agree, but I’m sure the discussion between Brent’s deli and LA County public health went like this…”please don’t report this publicly, our business is struggling as it is. Reporting this will kill our business.”

      So I can see their side in not reporting from a business standpoint. But that has no business in terms of the food safety. Restaurants need to start thinking proactively with food safety in mind so they do not put themselves in this position.

      • Jennifer Johns

        The should have made a public announcement as soon as they opened the investigation, but at that time naming any place would be a bad idea due to the fact that others could come forward and while the first person believes they got sick from Restaurant X (usually the last restaurant they ate at) the investigation could find that it was actually Restaurant Y that was the source of the outbreak.