The Salmonella outbreak at Skokie Country Club in Cook County, Illinois, continues to grow.  Currently, public health officials count 29 confirmed cases of Salmonella foodpoisoning linked to the Country Club, with 7 hospitalizations.  Officials say they’re also checking on more than 50 additional reports of salmonella-like symptoms in people who ate at the club.

Health department official Stephen Martin says club officials have voluntarily closed their kitchen facilities during the investigation.  A good thing, because anytime a large salmonella outbreak happens at a single location (as opposed to the Subway salmonella outbreak, where many different locations are associated with illness), one very likely cause of the outbreak is cross-contamination.  Generally, contaminated ingredients at a single restaurant don’t sicken 80 people.  Sick foodworkers, and poor foodhandling practices do. 

Here are a a few rules that apply to all foodservice establishments in the state of Illinois (a/k/a good subjects of inquiry for depositions and trial in the salmonella lawsuits that will arise from this outbreak):

§ 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.