Arby's logoKelli Hernandez of the Valdosta Daily Times reported last week on the salmonella illnesses tied to the Arby’s in Lowndes County.  Full story link is here – 72 cases of Salmonella infection found in Lowndes County.

The Georgia Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) contacted the Notifiable Diseases Epidemiology Section (NDES) of the South Georgia Health District (SGHD) that the lab had received eight Salmonella Montevideo isolates from South Georgia Medical Center between Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, according to a report filed by the Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health.

The report released last week found that "the fast food restaurant Arby’s was considered a possible source for the outbreak."  In fact, 10 swab samples were taken from surfaces in the restaurant and delivered to GPHL and tested for Salmonella.  One of the salmonella positive samples the investigators found was on a meat slicer.  The restaurant had been closed for remodeling and reopened on Aug. 18, 2006, and was utilizing a brand new meat slicer following the reopening.

Nineteen days after the restaurant was identified as the possible source of the outbreak, on Oct. 25, GPHL reported that one of the swab samples collected from the new meat slicer was positive for the Salmonella outbreak strain and the slicer was immediately removed from service.

Thirty-one additional samples were taken from the restaurant that same day. Though the new slicer had been cleaned and sanitized, Salmonella was still detected on the blade cover.

The report’s discussion concluded that though the initial cause of the salmonella was not discovered, salmonella persisted between the blade cover and handle due to lack of a seal in spite of frequent cleaning just after the restaurant reopened.

I find it a bit odd that after 72 people reported ill, and multiple positive salmonella samples, that the restaurant was not shut down. 

I also find it a bit odd that Arby’s has made no public statements nor offered to pay the ill customers’ medical expenses and lost wages.  Well, that is why salmonella litigation seems necessary.