At Marler Clark, we represent foodpoisoning victims from across the country.  Many of our foodpoisoning clients are people sickened with bacteria and viruses like E. coli, Salmonella, campylobacter, Hepatitis A, norovirus, and of course Shigella.  As has been widely publicized, a major outbreak has occurred at the Subway restaurant on Roosevelt Road in Lombard, Illinois.  The outbreak has likely left hundreds of people ill, including over 40 people who have contacted our firm for representation in claims against the restaurant. 

The Lombard Subway shigella outbreak prompts a basic question:  why is this outbreak so large?  Why have so many people fallen ill?  Answers will come, as the Dupage County Health Department continues its investigation into the circumstances and causes of the outbreak.  But there are certain, readily apparent circumstances that have likely contributed to the large scale of the outbreak. 

The nature of the product, and how the finished sandwiches are ultimately produced, with hand-to-food contact with virtually every individual sandwich component, means that there are multiple opportunities for insidious bacteria from an infected worker to contaminate the food. And without a kill step, there is virtually no way to rid the food of bacteria once it becomes contaminated.

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We will have to wait for the results of Dupage County Health Department’s investigation before knowing for sure what failures occurred at Subway restaurant to cause such a large outbreak.  Notably, however, the restaurant has been closed for some time now, which is not something that always happens in restaurant outbreak situations.  Generally, the closure of a restaurant is an extreme step taken when the investigating health department believes that there is the potential for environmental contamination–i.e. contamination of surfaces and equipment, likely from ill employees and poor sanitation practices–at the restaurant.