Filiberto's Shigella Outbreak
In late August of 2006, the San Diego County Health Department (SDCHD) and the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) began investigating a cluster of reported Shigella illnesses. The health departments launched epidemiological and environmental investigations and determined that the cluster of Shigella illnesses had originated at Filiberto’s Restaurant on University Avenue in San Diego, California; and serious food-handling and sanitation errors contributed to the outbreak of illness amongst restaurant patrons.
The CDHS report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the outbreak indicated 32 confirmed and 41 probable Shigella illnesses for a total of 73 ill restaurant patrons. The exposure period was reported as August 23 through August 31, 2006.
As a result of the outbreak, SDCHD conducted an inspection of the restaurant on August 31, 2006. The inspection revealed a host of food code violations, including improper cold holding temperatures for raw meat deliveries and the lack of a washing step for avocados in the guacamole preparation process. In addition, inspectors noted:
- Open windows with damaged screens.
Employee failure to wash hands after restroom use.Failure to follow prescribed sanitation procedures.Lack of a dedicated handwashing sink.Flies in the kitchen and preparation room.All refrigerators in both facilities failing to keep potentially hazardous foods below 41°F.Food preparation equipment such as the grater and slicer were not being washed or sanitized properly.Foodhandlers failing to use gloves or other implements on ready to eat foods.No current proof of foodhandlers training.Dumpster “fly infested and not kept covered.”Damaged screen doors.
As a result of these findings, the restaurant was closed until the deficiencies were corrected. The inspectors noted that many of the deficiencies could have been the cause of the Shigella outbreak.