A Seattle-King County Public Health food inspector late Thursday ordered the closure of Burien Fresh Smoothies in conjunction with an ongoing foodborne illness outbreak that has seen two people admitted to hospitals.
Burien is a town of about 50,000 immediately west of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in King County, WA. The restaurant is at 15712 1st Avenue South in Burien.
Public Health Seattle-King County reports it is investigating the outbreak. As of Friday, the specific source of the Salmonella bacteria had not been identified.
Since Wednesday, Aug. 15, seven people from three separate meal parties have reported becoming ill after consuming foods and/or beverages from Burien Fresh Smoothies on various days from Aug. 6-8, according to the health department.
The two people who were hospitalized have since recovered. There is no indication that any employees of the restaurant have had any symptoms consistent with salmonellosis, according to public health officials.
As part of the investigation, environmental health investigators visited the restaurant on Wednesday. They found that the restaurant was serving cooked pork that had been prepared at the restaurant owner’s home, which is not an approved food safety practice.
The restaurant was directed to immediately stop serving pork-based food items and to remove them from their menu.
However, on Thursday, Aug. 16, Public Health identified a fourth ill person diagnosed with salmonellosis after eating at Burien Fresh Smoothies on Aug. 7. That person did not eat any pork-based food items. Environmental health investigators revisited the establishment later on Thursday and suspended its permit.
On Friday, Aug. 17, an additional three ill people were identified, including one person with lab-confirmed salmonellosis, and two people with symptoms consistent with salmonellosis.
Burien Fresh Smoothies will not be allowed to reopen until public health officials confirm the restaurant operator has completed a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the establishment, adopted safe food handling practices to minimize cross contamination risks, and discarded any remaining processed ready-to-eat food products.
Additionally, environmental health investigators are working closely with Burien Fresh Smoothies owners to educate them about using only approved food sources. The restaurant will be allowed to sell pork-based foods once the city-county food safety team determines the owners have secured an alternate and approved source.
Five of the seven people who got sick tested positive for Salmonella Braenderup by a healthcare provider. The public health department is still waiting for genetic fingerprint results from whole genome sequencing. Food samples were collected from the establishment for laboratory testing and those results are also pending.
Salmonella can cause serious illness. Anyone who ate at Burien Fresh Smoothies from Aug. 7 through Aug. 16 and developed diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, within five days, should consult with their healthcare provider promptly to determine if testing is necessary. Specific lab tests are required to diagnose Salmonella infection, so people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure.
Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that is often spread through the fecal-oral route, through contaminated food and water, or through contact with animals and their environments. Symptoms of salmonellosis include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, chills, and abdominal cramping. Illness typically lasts several days and people can spread infection to others even after symptoms resolve.
Ill people with suspected Salmonella infections should not work in food handling, patient care, or childcare settings.
To prevent Salmonella infection:
- Wash hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, touching animals, and before eating or preparing food.
- Cook all meats thoroughly, especially poultry.
- Wash cutting boards and counters used for meat or poultry preparation immediately after use to avoid cross contaminating other foods.
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