More than 250 people have contacted San Antonio’s public health division with complaints of food poisoning symptoms after dining at Pasha’s Mediterranean Grill during Labor Day weekend. The restaurant was open as of last night.

A dozen people have been so sick they have been admitted to hospitals; 14 have laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infections, a spokeswoman for the San Antonio Metro Health Division told local media on Friday. Health officials have not posted an update on the division’s website since the original statement Sept. 6, when the patient count was “more than 60.”

Photo from Pasha’s Facebook page.

“(The division) is investigating a potential foodborne illness cluster following numerous, independent complaints of foodborne illness reported by individuals who have dined at Pasha’s Mediterranean Grill on Wurzbach Road during the past Labor Day weekend,” according to the Sept. 6 news release. 

“The restaurant is cooperating fully in the investigation and Metro Health staff is working with the restaurant to ensure all precautions are being taken to prevent any further illnesses.”

Restaurant owner Kamran Vandi told the San Antonio News-Express he closed the implicated Pasha’s location on Labor Day, Sept. 3, because a lightening strike Sept. 2 shorted out the restaurant’s refrigerator. The restaurant reopened Sept. 4.

Two days later Vandi told the News-Express the refrigerator “wasn’t on the right temperature, so we had to close (the restaurant) to be on the safe side,” Vandi. It was some bad luck.”

Health division spokeswoman Carol Schliesinger told San Antonio media the agency is investigating the restaurant. She said both dine-in and takeout services had been affected. City officials continue to urge recent Pasha’s customers with any symptoms to speak with health officials. Customers can call Metro Health at 210-207-8876.

Vandi told media outlets in San Antonio that Vandi two of his employees are being tested part of the investigation. The News-Express reported he said with all the traffic that goes through the restaurant, it’s not surprising to him that an illness may have spread.

Common symptoms of foodborne diseases, including infection by Salmonella bacteria, can include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea, according to public health officials. However, symptoms may differ among the different types of foodborne diseases.

The Metro Health division is encouraging anyone who recently ate at the restaurant and developed symptoms of foodborne illness to seek medical attention.

Recent inspections at Pasha’s
The restaurant earned more than a dozen violations in May when city inspectors checked the operation. 

Those violations included problems with the employee hand-washing sink, a buildup of black material in the ice machine and on the walls, plumbing leaks, and improper storage of food. Also, inspectors reported no one on site was a certified food protection manager, which is required by law. Another violation was recorded in May because the person in charge could not provide food handler certificates for employees on duty. Food safety training is part of the certification process.

The May inspection this year was not the first time health department staff found violations at the Pasha’s location. In December 2017 public health inspectors noted violations, including one involving the hand-washing sink.

In August 2017 inspectors noted another hand hygiene violation. They also found the Pasha’s food license had expired.

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