Pepper in some salmonella ...

nancy_drew(5 nw chgo burbs)May 8, 2009

Last week-end my husband, who works part time as a chauffeur worked very late with a prom group. While they were at the prom, Michael stopped at a restaurant, I won't say the name, (but it's a national chain named after a Mexican stew type dish, they use a huge, red pepper in their logo) and he became very, very ill.

The next day, after finally making his way home, he told some people at work what happened, they told him that that restaurant chain is known for that. Little did he know... anyway, he called the county health dept. and told them what happened and he asked about the "rumor", she told him, "That's not rumor... that's a fact".

Michael just wants this chain to clean up it's act... that's why he called the health dept. He called the main office of the chain before the health dept. The health dept returned his call. The restaurant did not.

What would you do? It's been a week today, and still no call. Would you sue? Michael's been joking that the restaurant will probably offer him a free meal!

I'm just a bit angry... well more than a bit. Had that been me eating there, with my other health issues, I might not have made it through what he went through. Food-born illnesses scare the hell out me!

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Nah, I wouldn't sue, Nancy. What I would do, though, is have hubby go back to the restaurant and speak with the manager. Explain all that has happened. Also advise that he called the main office of the chain.

There are so many things that may have gone wrong here--a new cook, maybe tainted food, maybe a combination of things. I would give them another chance to clean up their act.

I know the chain. I've eaten there many times without issue, but also understand what goes on behind the scenes (daughter worked in a chain restaurant). Most managers want only to do the right thing--their jobs are on the line. Make them correct the issues.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 6:40PM
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nancy_drew(5 nw chgo burbs)

I told Michael that I wouldn't be so angry if they returned his call, but later on I figured that if anyone made any kind of apology or offered to make any kind of amends, it would be the same as admitting guilt and not look good if Mike did sue.

Michael would have to call the manager, the restaurant is about an hour and a half away. He was so sick he couldn't drive and had get a hotel room that night. He was still sick when he got home. He said it was like nothing he's ever had... never has he been that sick before.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 8:36PM
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Former restaurant manager here - major Canadian chain. If you called Head Office, it might take some time to trickle down to the restaurant. Always call the restaurant first. As a matter of fact, that's what you and DH should do. I bet you they haven't even heard about the problem from their HO. Happened to me twice in 15 years and I was fuming when I discovered there had been an issue a few weeks before hand.

It is a difficult situation for managers of such places. I was responsible for the actions and practices in food service of over 30 employees. Unfortunately my eyeballs couldn't be on everyone 100% of the time and I did need a life. Got burned-out in 2003 so left the business.

"... anyone made any kind of apology or offered to make any kind of amends, it would be the same as admitting guilt...". You are right. And unfortunately, sometimes it's the manager which gets the hit of the lawsuit the worst even though he/she may not have been there that night and someone may have taken the wrong product out of the fridge, or placed product on a cutting board which they assumed had been cleaned after being used for something else but had not, or used an unapproved product unknowingly, etc.

Inform the restaurant. Ask if they have any foodservice/foodsafety courses in place. What are those courses and when were they last taken? Are they taking temperatures of their product on a regular basis and recording them in logs? If yes, ask to see them. That's what they are there for. Answers to such questions will be implimented by and provided by responsible restaurant chains.

Let's put it this way. Before I eat at a restaurant which I've never been to before, I ask for their last Health Inpection Report and leave or stay on that basis. :O)

Just a point of view by someone who was in the business for over 25 years.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 9:16PM
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stage_rat(5--Indiana Riviera)

Oh, wow, food poisoning sucks, and I understand feeling so mad about it! I never heard this rumor about the restaurant, thanks for the warning! It's C****s, right? I just need to be sure, I've eaten there in a few airports, and liked their menu.

My BF started blaming our favorite Mexican place for the stomach trouble he had, and he said he wasn't going there anymore. I pointed out that he eats at his work cafeteria almost every day, and it was unfair to blame the restaurant. After a couple of weeks, he needed good tacos, and he once again eats there all the time. When the illness hits immediately, it's a lot easier to know who to blame! I once got a norovirus, and it came on sort of slowly on a Tuesday. It was from something I ate over the weekend, we think, at a party or a restaurant, but my BF and I ate the same stuff all weekend. Lucky me to be the one who succumbed! :)

Hand washing--it's not just for flu prevention!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 11:57PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Causation? Tricky.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 12:21AM
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nancy_drew(5 nw chgo burbs)

The restaurant called hubby yesterday. They were very apologetic, went as far as admitting they could have been to blame. They said they didn't want to lose him as a customer. (HA! I'm already paranoid of food! Quick get me over there!) They are sending him a $100.00 gift card!

Tiffy, thank you so much for the very wise advice! If we ever DO go to another restaurant, that is exactly what I will do! I wish the Health Dept would publicly grade food establishments and force restaurants to be more transparent. They should have to post the Health Dept findings clearly, so that every customer can be informed!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 3:29PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Again, causation. I'm assuming it's Chili's you are referring to.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 5:40PM
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nancy_drew(5 nw chgo burbs)

Well, I am assuming (perhaps my first mistake?) that the Will County Health Dept paid a visit, they told hubs that they would, and found a critical violation. Another thought is that my husband may not have been the only complaint.

We are NOT planning on suing, but at least the mgr knows he needs to be more aware of what's going on in his kitchen.

We live across the street from Lake County, I go into Vernon Hills quite a bit. This incident happened at what used to be the closest Chili's to us. This how Chili's got the reputaion it has in our area.

Salmonella Outbreak

The salmonella epidemic affected more than 300 persons who dined at the Vernon Hills restaurant between June 23 and July 1 in 2003. The Lake County Health Department traced the problem to improper handwashing techniques and a management decision to keep the restaurant open for two days even though its water service was interrupted.

The health department interviewed about 1,200 individuals, including 305 people whose illnesses appeared related to the outbreak. Of those, 141 patrons and 28 employees tested positive for salmonella. Another 106 patrons met the "probable" case definition.

ChiliÂs reopened July 11 after passing required health tests and after it underwent extensive cleaning and sanitizing and retraining of employees. No fines or other punitive action was taken because the restaurant acted in a cooperative manner after the bacterial health problems surfaced.

Brinker agreed to reimburse the county for $32,500 in expenses connected to the unusual costs for testing and staff training.

Many of the victims have sought legal assistance to deal with the health issues. The Waukegan firm of Salvi, Schostok and Pritchard the Seattle-based Marler Clark filed several lawsuits against the Brinker corporation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chili's Closes in Vernon Hills

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 6:14PM
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bakemom_gw(z6 Central Ohio)

Cringe. The food is terrible too. I have been ill after eating at Chili's and don't eat at big chains now ever. I assumed it was preservatives. I hope you are all doing well.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 8:39PM
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