Public Health —Seattle & King County is investigating an outbreak of gastroenteritis with abdominal cramping and diarrhea associated with Xi’an Noodles in Seattle. Xi’an Noodles is  at 5259 University Way NE in Seattle.

The investigation stems from illnesses reported to Public Health’s attention on Christmas Eve.

The agency learned of three people from a single dining party who became ill after consuming food and beverages from Xi’an Noodles on Dec. 21, 2018.

Symptoms and timing of illness onsets are suggestive of a bacterial toxin, such as Bacillus cereus or Clostridium perfringens, according to public health officials.

The exact food or drink that caused the illness has not been identified, which is not uncommon for outbreaks associated with a bacterial toxin.

Environmental health investigators visited the restaurant on Dec. 31, 2018. They identified potential risk factors for bacterial toxin growth, including incorrect cooling of potentially hazardous foods, improper storage of foods at room temperature, or lacking a thermometer to measure food temperatures.

Investigators provided restaurant management with recommendations about safe food handling practices to reduce the risk of bacterial toxins. The facility discarded all improperly handled foods and made process changes to correct unsafe food practices at the time of the field visit. Environmental Health investigators will revisit the restaurant within 14 days to ensure compliance with proper food handling practices.

Bacterial toxin illnesses are typically short-lived, and by the time people seek care, if they do at all, it is often too long after the suspected exposure to test.

Public Health offers this “general advice” for reducing the risk of contracting Bacillus cereus or Clostridium perfringens:

  • Wash hands, cutting boards, and counters used for food preparation immediately after use to avoid cross-contamination of other foods.
  • Food, especially meats, rice, and gravies should be cooked to a safe internal temperature, and then kept at 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) or warmer, or 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) or cooler.
  • Leftover foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation.
  • It is recommended to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator. However, to allow rapid cooling, large amounts of food, such as soups, stews, and big cuts of meats, such as roasts, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration.
  • Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C) before serving.
  • Use a food thermometer to appropriately measure food temperatures, both during cooking and cooling.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Foods that have dangerous bacteria in them may not taste, smell, or look different. Any food that has been left out too long may be dangerous to eat, even if it looks OK.

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