The Shigella outbreak linked to Subway sandwiches in Lombard, Illinois has sickened well over one hundred people. We represent close to 70 individuals now in the outbreak, and are continuing to receive calls from people daily who missed substantial work or required medical attention, many times both, as a result of their illnesses. And claims will only continue to pile up in this major outbreak.
The silver lining, if there is one, is that nobody died in the outbreak. Shigella is always devastating, and can be fatal.
So now that the victims are recovering, for the most part, thoughts will turn to identifying exactly what failures caused this outbreak. It is probably beyond debate at this point whether the Subway in question had sick employees. It certainly did, which is likely a primary reason why so many people became ill in this outbreak. But what else went wrong? A restaurant with a sick employee problem, and likely even no sick leave policy whatsoever, probably had addtional failures. Were gloves being worn? Or was there bare handed contact by ill employees with ready to eat foods–e.g. most everything in a Subway store?
Here are a few other areas of inquiry for depositions and at trial in these cases (NOTE: the following are requirements for retail food establishments set forth in the Illinois Administrative Code):
§ 760.410 General–Personal Cleanliness.
Employees shall thoroughly wash their hands and the exposed portions of their arms with soap and warm water before starting work, during work as often as is necessary to keep them clean, and after smoking, eating, drinking, or using the toilet. Employees shall keep their fingernails clean and trimmed.
§ 760.430 General–Employee Practices.
c) Employees shall maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and shall conform to good hygienic practices during all working periods in the retail food store.
§ 760.500 General–Materials.
Multi-use equipment and utensils shall be constructed and repaired with safe materials, including finishing materials; shall be corrosion resistant and shall be nonabsorbent; and shall be smooth, easily cleanable, and durable under conditions of normal use. Single-service articles shall be made from clean, sanitary, safe materials. Equipment, utensils, and single-service articles shall not impart odors, color, taste, nor contribute to the contamination of food.
§ 760.700 Cleaning Frequency.
a) Utensils and foodcontact surfaces of equipment shall be cleaned and sanitized:
1) Each time there is a change in processing between raw beef, raw pork, raw poultry or raw seafood, or a change in processing from raw to readytoeat foods;
2) After any interruption of operations during which time contamination may have occurred; and
3) After final use each working day.
b) Where equipment and utensils are used for the preparation of potentially hazardous foods on a continuous or productionline basis, utensils and the food-contact surfaces of equipment shall be cleaned and sanitized at intervals throughout the day on a schedule based on food temperature, type of food, and amount of food particle accumulation.
c) The foodcontact surfaces of cooking devices and the cavities and door seals of microwave ovens shall be cleaned at least once each day of use, except that this shall not apply to hot oil cooking equipment and hot oil filtering systems. The foodcontact surfaces of all baking equipment and pans shall be kept free of encrusted grease deposits and other accumulated soil.
d) Nonfoodcontact surfaces of equipment, including transport vehicles, shall be cleaned as often as is necessary to keep the equipment free of accumulation of dust, dirt, food particles, and other debris.