A Mexican restaurant on Seattle’s Capitol Hill is under investigation by King County Public Health over a cluster of suspected cases of the bacterial toxins, Bacillus cereus or Clostridium perfringens. Both cause gastroenteritis with abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
The health department says four people were sickened after dining at Rancho Bravo Tacos at 1001 East Pine St.in Seattle on April 22. The four people were from a single party and became ill shortly after eating. None were hospitalized and no others have reported illnesses. Tests were not done to confirm which pathogen was involved because bacterial toxin illnesses are short-lived and by the time people become sick they are too far from exposure to test.
An environmental health team inspected the restaurant on April 25, finding “improper cooling and hot holding of potentially hazardous foods” as violations. However, the problems were corrected and all food that might have been contaminated was discarded. King County will conduct a follow-up inspection in two weeks. Rancho Bravo is said to be fully cooperating with the investigation.
The pathogens, B. cereus and C. perfringens, are both bacteria that grow rapidly at room temperature. When cooking high-risk foods, King County Public Health says it is important to keep them out the danger zone that exists from 41 to 135 degrees F by serving food while it is still hot, placing hot food into shallow pans and directly into the refrigerator to cool food quickly, or holding it at a minimum of 135 degrees.
Rancho Bravo serves fast and inexpensive Mexican food until 3 a.m. on weekends.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)