Two children and an adult have tested positive for E. coli O157: H7 after eating at a Denver area Red Robin restaurant. Two of the three people were admitted to hospitals.
The Tri-County Health Department inspected the Red Robin at 799 W. 146th Ave. in Westminster, CO, on July 9 after receiving information about the outbreak from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The inspection found several food safety violations. Red Robin management voluntarily closed the restaurant on July 10 to complete a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the restaurant, conduct food safety training for all employees, and test employees who handle food.
The critical violations included improper employee handwashing, improper cleaning and sanitizing of food preparation surfaces, and cross-contamination between raw meats and other prepared foods. Tri-County Health Department will conduct food safety training and ensure all violations have been corrected before the restaurant reopens.
“We have not yet determined the source of the E. coli O157: H7,” said Ashley Richter, Communicable Disease Epidemiology Manager at Tri-County Health Department. “E. coli can be found in raw or undercooked meats, contaminated fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk or juice, and in the stool of people who are infected.”
Symptoms of E. coli O157: H7 infection begin 1 to 10 days after ingesting the bacteria and include diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach pain, and sometimes fever and vomiting. Some people, especially young children, develop a life-threatening condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which requires hospitalization. E. coli O157: H7 infections should not be treated with antibiotics because that could increase the risk of HUS.
The bacteria can be passed from person-to-person when an infected person does not thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet, after diapering, or before preparing food. Cross-contamination can occur if food preparation surfaces are not properly cleaned after contact with raw meat, and then the same surface is used to make ready-to-eat foods.
Tri-County Health Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are actively investigating the outbreak.
Public Health urges people to contact their doctor or health care provider if they ate since June 1 at this specific Red Robin restaurant and developed diarrhea (especially bloody diarrhea), severe stomach pain, fever and vomiting within 10 days of eating at the restaurant. Talk to your provider about whether testing for E. coli O157: H7 should be done.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)