The source of the E. coli contamination which recently sickened patrons of a popular Reno, NV, restaurant has been identified as a chocolate mousse dessert. “It was a chocolate marquee mousse, basically a chocolate cake with frosting,” Phil Ulibarri, public information officer for the Washoe County Health District, told Food Safety News. The Washoe County Health District stated in a release posted Tuesday, Nov. 24, that the dessert, manufactured at Reno Provisions and served at the Twisted Fork restaurant, is believed to have somehow been contaminated with the pathogen during production. Due to the cross-contamination, which occurred at Reno Provisions and its connection to special food processing operations conducted there, health district officials have directed Reno Provisions to halt these special operations until detailed plans are submitted for their review and approval. The plans will be established through a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system approach, which addresses analysis and control of hazards during the food production processes, the district stated. “The health district takes our responsibility to protect the public from communicable diseases very seriously, whether it’s an E. coli outbreak from food served in restaurants, or norovirus in schools,” said Kevin Dick, district health officer. “We want the public to know it is our highest priority to protect the health of residents and visitors to our area.” Since mid-October, 22 confirmed and probable cases of E. coli 0157:H7 have been reported in Washoe County. Health district epidemiologists and environmental specialists traced the source through hundreds of hours of investigation, interviewing people and testing foods, until the E. coli source was identified. Ulibarri said that both Reno Provisions, the food manufacturer, and managers of The Twisted Fork restaurant have fully cooperated with investigators. The source of the contamination has been addressed, and no additional contaminated food items have been identified. The Twisted Fork closed from Nov. 9-24 in response to the outbreak and reportedly reopened Tuesday evening after extensive cleaning and restocking.
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