In the summer of 2023, an outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections occurred in the Boston area. Public health officials from the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health conducted investigations into what would become three rounds of illnesses associated with food prepared at Los Amigos Taqueria located at 366 Washington Street in Brighton, Massachusetts. A total of 126 ill patrons were identified. Sixteen people were hospitalized. No one died.

The first round of cases was detected in May 2023. Investigators surveyed Los Amigos Taqueria patrons who picked up their meals in person as well as patrons who used meal delivery services such as Ubereats and DoorDash. Cases began in mid-May and continued until the restaurant was closed in mid-June. One hundred and four people with laboratory-confirmed Salmonella Enteritidis infections were identified. Case-patients were infected with the same genetic strain of Salmonella, determined by whole-genome sequencing. Twelve of these cases were hospitalized. A temporary suspension of the permit to operate was issued on May 30, 2023.

The second round of cases occurred in June after Los Amigos Taqueria reopened. Nineteen ill persons were counted as outbreak-associated cases in round 2. Surveys were administered to participants of two catered lunches. Fourteen people who were part of a workplace luncheon for employees of Ernst and Young responded to a survey. Ten people met the case definition for an outbreak associated case. Twelve percent were hospitalized. No illnesses were identified among people who participated in the second catered meal. The restaurant was closed again after these illnesses were reported.

 Finally, investigators investigated cases in a third round of illnesses after the restaurant was allowed to reopen in July. One case was diagnosed in late July. Two cases were diagnosed in August.

Nine employees were tested in total, and two were positive for Salmonella Enteritidis. One was a manager but denied symptoms. A second was an employee and symptomatic. All food tested was negative.

 Los Amigos Taqueria in Brighton has a history of food safety issues dating back to August 2016. Inadequate sanitation, soiled surfaces, improper food storage, lack of working thermometers, evidence of mice droppings, and insect activity were documented multiple times over the years. On May 18, 2023, inspectors conducted the first inspection triggered by reports of illness at the restaurant. On that day, health inspectors reported finding “visible soils,” “mold-like substances” and rodent droppings in their inspections. 

An inspection at the Brighton restaurant triggered again by reports of illness occurred on June 23, 2023, following a complaint for reported cases of Salmonella. The inspector uncovered the following violations: shrimp being stored with fish, a cross-contamination issue, food temperature safety concerns, soiled and damaged cooking tools, and failures to properly sanitize pans before reusing them. The restaurant was ordered to close again. 

A follow-up inspection on July 13, 2023 saw little improvement. Bags of shrimp were still stored in the same box as fish fillets, and guacamole and corn salsa were inadequately cold held. A hot holding cabinet with chicken measured 110oF instead of the required 165oF. The chicken was discarded because of an unknown time out of temperature. Operations at the restaurant were discontinued until further investigation could be performed.

Even after illnesses had subsided, health inspectors found broken equipment, heavy carbon buildup on the grill top used to cook meats and accumulated soils at an inspection conducted September 12, 2023. The restaurant was told to make proper repairs to equipment for replace. 

Inspection records can be found on-line at Analyze Boston.