Four Seattle area residents have tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) after consuming food at one of three different local locations of the Homegrown restaurant chain, Seattle-King County Public Health reports.

The three implicated Homegrown restaurants are located in Redmond, Kirkland and on Westlake Avenue in Seattle. All four people – three adults and one child – ate the chicken pesto chicken sandwich on April 24-26, 2018. Victims suffered abdominal cramps and diarrhea, with one person reporting bloody diarrhea.

Health investigators inspected the three Homegrown locations and identified potential risk factors, such as handwashing facilities violations at two of three locations and a cold holding temperature violation at one of them. All three restaurants were required to complete a thorough cleaning and disinfection.

During the immediate prior inspections, the Redmond Homegrown restaurant score was Excellent; and the Kirkland and Westlake locations earned Good ratings.

The Homegrown restaurants have stopped selling the chicken pesto sandwiches, while investigators look into the various ingredients.

Three of the people involved are residents of King County, while the four is from the adjoining Snohomish County.

Public Health says the three restaurants were required to undergo cleaning and disinfection, while officials determine if any employees have recently had any diarrheal illness. The illnesses involve the same genetic fingerprint, suggesting a common source of the infection. One of the four could not be tested, but the genetic fingerprint involved has not been previously seen in the United States, making it unique to this outbreak.

Public Health also provides this “general advice” for reducing the risk of contracting STEC:

  • Avoid eating high-risk foods, especially undercooked ground beef and other beef products, unpasteurized (raw) milk or juice or cheese, and raw sprouts.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure that ground beef has reached a safe internal temperature of 160° F.
  • Wash hands before preparing food, after diapering infants, and after contact with cows, sheep, or goats, their food or treats, or their living environment.
  • Thoroughly wash fresh produce before eating.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click )