“Although there is no intentional criminal behavior like there was in the Peanut Corporation of America case that sickened several hundred, killing nine, this hefty food safety fine for negligence, should clearly send a message to the restaurant industry,” said Marler Clark attorney, William Marler.

According to a US Attorney press release today, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will pay $25 million to resolve criminal charges related to the company’s involvement in foodborne illness outbreaks that sickened more than 1,100 people between 2015 and 2018.

The $25 million criminal fine, the largest ever in a food safety case.

Chipotle was implicated in at least five foodborne illness outbreaks between 2015 and 2018 connected to restaurants in the Los Angeles area, Boston, Virginia, and Ohio.  These incidents primarily stemmed from store-level employees’ failure to follow company food safety protocols at company-owned restaurants, including a Chipotle policy requiring the exclusion of employees who were sick or recently had been sick.

Not part of the criminal plea, Chipotle was also involved in E. coli and Salmonella cases in 2015 as well.

Here is a bit of my history with Chipotle:

2018 Outbreak of Clostridium perfringens at Chipotle, Powell, Ohio

In July 2018 public health investigators at the Delaware General Health District (DGHD) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) investigated an outbreak of Clostridium perfringens associated with Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 9733 Sawmill Parkway in Powell, Ohio. Six hundred forty-seven people became ill after eating at the restaurant between July 26 and July 30. Chipotle closed the store on Monday, July 30. After implementing its food-safety-response protocols which included replacing the food and cleaning the restaurant, the facility reopened on July 31.

2017 Outbreak of Norovirus at Chipotle Mexican Grill, Sterling, Virginia

The Loudoun County Health Department reported that more than 135 people were sickened after eating food from the Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 21031 Tripleseven Road in Sterling, Virginia. The first reports of illness occurred on July 13, 2017. Two ill patrons tested positive for norovirus. The outbreak was attributed to an ill food handler.

2015 Outbreak of Norovirus, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Boston, Massachusetts

More than 120 Boston College students were taken ill after eating at the same Chipotle at 1924 Beacon Street in Brighton in December 2015. After receiving reports of multiple cases of gastrointestinal illness among patrons who ate at the Chipotle Mexican Grill in Cleveland Circle, the Boston Public Health Commission, the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health launched an investigation to determine the cause and the nature of the illness. Laboratory testing confirmed the presence of norovirus. There were 136 known cases of norovirus from people who ate at Chipotle; others who were contacts to these cases have also become ill. City inspectors closed the Chipotle, located in Brighton near BC’s campus, “until further notice” after reporting three critical health violations following a visit Monday.

2015 Outbreak of E. coli O26 Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill, Washington and Oregon

The CDC, FDA, USDA FSIS and public health officials in several states investigated two outbreaks of E. coli O26 linked to food sold at Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants. Public health investigators used PulseNet to identify illnesses that were part of the outbreaks. Two different rare PFGE patterns were included in these investigations. Outbreak #1: A total of 55 people infected with PulseNet strain EVCX01.1180/EVCA26.0773 were reported by 11 states. The majority of cases were reported from Washington (27) and Oregon (13). Other states included California (3), Delaware (1), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), Ohio (3) and Pennsylvania (2). Among people for whom information was available, illnesses started on dates ranging from October 19, 2015 to December 1, 2015. Twenty-one (38%) reported being hospitalized. There were no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome or deaths. This outbreak was assigned CDC Outbreak ID 1511MLEVC-1. Outbreak #2: In December 2015 a second outbreak with a different rare strain of E. coli O26 was identified. A total of 5 people were reported from three states, Kansas (1), North Dakota (1) and Oklahoma (3). Illness onsets for these outbreak cases ranged from November 18, 2015 to November 26, 2015. One person reported being hospitalized. There were no reports of hemolytic uremic syndrome or deaths. A review of chipotle’s distribution records by state and federal regulators was unable to identify a single food item or ingredient that could explain illnesses in either outbreak.

2015 Outbreak of Norovirus, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Simi Valley, California

In August 2015 Ventura County Environmental Health and Ventura County Public Health Division staff investigated an outbreak of norovirus among patrons of a Chipotle restaurant located in the Simi Valley Towne Center. During the week of August 18, 2015 about 80 customers and 18 restaurant employees reported symptoms. Laboratory testing of patient specimens confirmed the presence of Norovirus. The restaurant closed for thorough cleaning before reopening.

2015 Salmonella Newport Outbreak, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Agriculture investigators reported an outbreak of Salmonella Newport among customers of 17 different Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants. The MDH Public Health Laboratory detected two PFGE outbreak strains identified as PulseNet patterns JJPX01.0030 and JPX01.0011. In total 92 culture confirmed case patients were identified. Eighty-one (88%) of the 92 cases reported that they ate or likely ate at a Chipotle location before onset of Illness. Ten (12%) cases denied exposure to Chipotle and one (1%) case was secondary to a household member with Chipotle exposure. In addition to the confirmed cases, 34 persons met the definition as a probable case. Among the 115 (81 confirmed and 34 probable) cases, illness onset dates ranged from August 2 to September 27. Seventeen cases were hospitalized, 18 were seen at an emergency department and 54 sought care at an outpatient clinic. No cases died. Analysis of case control data showed that mild tomato salsa, carnitas and brown rice were significantly associated with illness. Tomatoes were implicated as the outbreak vehicle by an ingredient-specific analytic study, supported by internal product distribution information provided by chipotle corporate. The ultimate source of contamination (i.e., the tomato farm or packing house) was not identified.

2015 E. coli O157 Outbreak Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill, Seattle, Washington

In early August 2015 Public Health Seattle King County (PHSKC) investigated an outbreak of E. coli O157 that occurred among five patrons of Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 1415 Broadway in Seattle, Washington. Illness onset dates occurred on July 28, 2015 (1 case), July 29 (2 cases) and July 31 (2 cases). All five cases reported experiencing diarrhea that turned bloody and abdominal cramps. Two cases reported vomiting. Two cases reported fever. Three cases were hospitalized. Two sought treatment at an emergency department. None of the patients developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. There were no deaths. The Washington Department of Health (WDOH) Public Health Laboratory (PHL) conducted genetic testing by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) on isolates cultured from patients’ specimens. Test results showed that all were infected with an indistinguishable genetic strain assigned PulseNet Identification Numbers EXHX01.0012/EXHA26.1779. This strain had not been seen previously in King County. 

March 13th, 2020, WinCo Foods, LLC. of Boise, ID is recalling frozen Blackberries in a 16 oz. bag and frozen Berry Medley in 16 oz. and 32 oz. bags, manufactured by Rader Farms of Lynden, WA, because both products have the potential to be contaminated with Norovirus. Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Typical symptoms of norovirus infection are acute onset of vomiting, watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps, and nausea. Systemic manifestations include, fever, myalgia and malaise, anorexia, and headache. Although most symptoms end within 48 hours, the elderly, young children and immunocompromised persons may develop prolonged or more severe symptoms.

WinCo Foods has removed the recalled products from store shelves.

Product was distributed to WinCo Foods stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Utah.

THIS NOTICE AFFECTS THE FOLLOWING PRODUCTS (see attached labels). The Best By Code is located on the front of the package near the product image.

WINCO FOODS FROZEN BLACKBERRIES, 16 OZ. BAG – UPC: 70552-30502, Best By Code Dec/09/2021.

WINCO FOODS FROZEN BERRY MEDLEY, 16 OZ. BAG – UPC: 70552-30522, Best By Code Dec/09/2021.

WINCO FOODS FROZEN BERRY MEDLEY, 32 OZ. BAG – UPC: 70552-30512, Best By Code Dec/09/2021.

No customer illnesses have been reported to date. WinCo Foods was informed by the FDA that a sample of the product was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Norovirus.

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $700 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

The department was first alerted to the outbreak on February 5 after a number of people reported becoming ill while visiting the L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles.

See:

https://about-norovirus.com

The Louisiana Office of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of norovirus in the Lake Charles area that appears to be spreading in the Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes.

The CDC and state health officials say norovirus is a highly contagious type of gastrointestinal illness, or stomach virus, that is spread easily from person to person. Illness caused by norovirus is often mistakenly called “stomach flu.” However, norovirus is not related to influenza.

People of all ages can become ill from norovirus as it is easily spread in several ways, including:

  • Having direct contact with an ill person, such as by caring for them or sharing food or utensils with them
  • Touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your hands in your mouth
  • Consuming contaminated food or water

“People with norovirus can easily spread the illness from the moment they begin experiencing symptoms to several days after they recover,” said Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health. “Some people can continue to spread norovirus for up to three weeks. There are no medications to prevent norovirus, which is why frequent handwashing is your best protection.”

Symptoms, which typically begin 24 to 48 hours after being infected and usually last one to two days, include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • A run-down feeling
  • Mild fever

Take the following steps to prevent spreading the illness:

  • Stay home from school or work for 24 hours after vomiting and diarrhea have stopped.
  • If you are a food handler, stay home from work for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.
  • Healthcare providers and those who work with children should also stay home for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating, preparing or handling food and before giving yourself or someone else medicine. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to, but not in lieu of, washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and soiled surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners.
  • Wash clothing thoroughly in hot water if it is soiled with diarrhea or vomit:
    • Handle soiled items carefully without agitating them
    • Wear rubber or disposable gloves when handling soiled items and wash hands after
    • Wash the items with detergent and hot water at the maximum available cycle length then machine dry at the highest heat setting

If you have recently become ill with diarrhea and/or vomiting, please complete this brief online survey to aid in the investigation. More information on norovirus can be found here, and detailed cleaning instructions can be found here. If you have any questions or require assistance, please call Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 1800-256-2748.

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $700 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

The New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has determined that norovirus was a contributing cause of death in the person who passed away after attending an event at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester, New Hampshire, on November 24, 2019. The OCME completed its final report today after conducting an autopsy last month. The person who died is an adult from Hillsborough county. No additional details about this person will be released by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) due to federal and state privacy laws.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the person who passed away,” said Chief of the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, Beth Daly.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. The virus is shed in the stool of people who are sick and is spread by having direct contact with an infected person, from eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth. There is no specific treatment for norovirus and most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

You can help protect yourself and others from norovirus by:

Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating, preparing, or handling food, and before giving yourself or someone else medicine.

Not preparing food for others, providing healthcare, or providing childcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.

Staying home from school, work, and other events when you are sick

Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home and office, especially areas after someone vomits or has diarrhea.

Anyone with questions about norovirus can speak to their healthcare provider

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $700 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Seattle King County Public Health investigated an outbreak of norovirus-like illness with vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, chills, and fever associated with Brave Horse Tavern in Seattle.

Since November 27, 2019, 30 people from 5 meal parties reported becoming ill after consuming food and drinks from Brave Horse Tavern on November 23 and 24, 2019.

We identified at least 11 employees who experienced symptoms consistent with norovirus dating back to November 24, 2019. At least 2 employees had 2 total household members with symptoms dating back to November 20, 2019.

Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant on November 27, 2019. Investigators learned of multiple employees who had been ill with norovirus-like illness.

The restaurant closed on November 27, 2019, and completed a thorough cleaning and disinfection. All ready-to-eat foods processed before the restaurant was disinfected were discarded. The restaurant was reopened on November 29, 2019. Restaurant management also voluntarily conducted a thorough cleaning and disinfection of Trattoria Cuoco, a neighboring restaurant under the same management, which shares freezer space with Brave Horse Tavern.

Investigators reviewed the requirement that ill staff are not allowed to work until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours, and provided education about preventing the spread of norovirus — including proper handwashing and preventing bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.

We do not have laboratory results for the people who got sick. Often in norovirus outbreaks, no laboratory testing is done. Symptoms among those who got sick are suggestive of norovirus.

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $700 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Update—Nov. 7, 2019

We received new reports from people who said they got sick with norovirus-like illness after they ate at Poke Pop in Fircrest. Since yesterday’s update, we received 9 more illness reports for a total of 26.

The illness reports fall into 2 categories:

  • Primary—22 report they got ill after they ate at Poke Pop.
  • Secondary—4 got ill away from Poke Pop from exposure to customers who reported illness after they ate there.

The exposure dates range from Oct. 30-Nov. 4 for everyone who got sick. People got ill about a day and a half after exposure. Their illness lasted about 2 days.

Reports of illness have decreased so this will be our last regular update on the suspected norovirus outbreak. Read our previous posts below and go to www.tpchd.org/norovirus to learn more.

Update—Nov. 6, 2019

We cleared Poke Pop to reopen late this morning. Employees met the required preopening steps to clean and sanitize the restaurant. We inspected the food establishment to ensure conditions did not pose risks to public health. On Nov. 5, we closed Poke Pop because of a suspected norovirus outbreak. Since then, we received 11 new illness reports for a total of 17.

Of the 11 new reported illnesses:

  • 9 people ate at the restaurant.
  • 2 are secondary cases. (Customers who reported illness after they ate at Poke Pop exposed these 2 people to their illness away from the restaurant.)

For all 17 ill people, the exposure dates range from Oct. 30-Nov. 4. People got sick about a day and a half after exposure. Their illness lasted about 2 days.

If you ate at Poke Pop and became ill, we want to hear from you. Contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online, or call (253) 798-4712. Find 2-year inspection reports for food establishments in Pierce County at www.tpchd.org/foodinspections. Read our previous post below to learn more.

Original Post—Nov. 5, 2019

Our Food & Community Safety staff are working with Poke Pop, 2013 Mildred St. W., Fircrest, on a suspected norovirus outbreak. We closed the restaurant late Tuesday morning (Nov. 5) for at least 24 hours. Employees will clean and sanitize the food establishment to ensure the public is no longer at risk.

Six people who were part of a group of 8 said they got sick with norovirus-like symptoms after they ate at the restaurant Nov. 1. They came down with symptoms between a day and a day and a half after they ate there. Their symptoms—vomiting, diarrhea, nausea—lasted from a day to a day and a half.

The meal they ate at Poke Pop is the only one the 6 customers have in common during the period they got sick.

In addition to cleaning and sanitizing the restaurant, staff will throw out all ready-to-eat food ingredients like produce, bread, and cheese. We are interviewing employees to determine who worked the day the customers visited and if any employees worked while ill. We will inspect the restaurant Nov. 6 to ensure it is safe for the public before it reopens.

If you ate at Poke Pop and became ill, we want to hear from you. Contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online, or call (253) 798-4712. Find 2-year inspection reports for food establishments in Pierce County at www.tpchd.org/foodinspections.

Keep norovirus at bay.

Norovirus is highly contagious and always around us. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting, often at the same time. Symptoms typically last a day or 2. It’s the same virus often related to cruise ship illness. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/norovirus.

Norovirus infographic

We need to keep norovirus out of food establishments to prevent outbreaks. Fresh, ready-to-eat foods that requires lots of hands-on preparation—sandwiches, salads, fruit cups—have a higher chance of involvement in a norovirus outbreak. To protect customers from norovirus and other foodborne illness:

  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. This is especially after bathroom visits and cleaning.
  • Avoid barehand contact with ready-to-eat food. Use gloves or utensils like tongs.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

The state’s Paid Sick Leave Law means food workers don’t have to face financial hardship when they take time off from work to care of their health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org/paidsickleave.

How to clean for norovirus.

Clean vomit or diarrhea accidents immediately.

Step 1. Remove vomit or poop.

  • Pick up the chunks with paper towels or other disposable material.
  • Soak up liquids with absorbent materials. Use kitty litter or dry oatmeal for carpeted areas.
  • Double bag and discard.
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner.

Step 2. Sanitize.

  • Disinfect hard surfaces using 1 2/3 cups of household bleach per gallon of water. Allow for 1 minute of contact time.
  • Sanitize all handles and knobs in your house with the bleach solution.
  • Linens (including clothing, towels, napkins): Wash separately in hot water and dry on high.
  • Steam clean carpets using the highest setting for heat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination (use separate sanitation cloths for bathroom and other surfaces).
  • Clean and disinfect all containers used (e.g., buckets).

If you ate at Poke Pop and became ill, contact the Health Department at food@tpchd.org, report online, or call (253) 798-4712.

Norovirus:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Alma Pak of Alma, Georgia is recalling specific lots of product containing frozen blackberries (noted below) due to the potential of being contaminated with Norovirus. FDA testing of frozen blackberries was reported to have tested positive for Norovirus.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Consumption of product contaminated with Norovirus may cause acute onset of symptoms of gastroenteritis including severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Less common symptoms are low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Although most symptoms end within 48 hours, the elderly, young children and immunocompromised persons may develop prolonged, or more severe symptoms.

Specific lot information is as follows:

Product UPC Code Retailer Lot Number Expiry Date Distributed to
select stores in:
Distribution
Dates:
16 oz Great Value Frozen Blackberries 078742-431017 Walmart AP1555
AP1640
AP1655
1/25/2021
3/07/2021
4/08/2021
GA, FL, NC and SC 1/31-2019 –
5/31/2019
12 oz Tipton Grove Frozen Mixed Berries 051933-34784-7 Save-A-Lot AP 1700 4/22/2021
4/23/2021
4/24/2021
FL, NC, NY, TN, WI 5/5/2019 –
5/15/2019

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this recall. Impacted retailers have removed these products from store shelves. The FDA and the company continue to investigate the source of the issue.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

WinCo Foods, LLC. Of Boise, ID is recalling Frozen Red Raspberries, 12 ounce bag, manufactured by Rader Farms of Bellingham, WA, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Norovirus. Norovirus is a highly contagious virus. Typical symptoms of norovirus infection are acute onset of vomiting, watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps, and nausea. Systemic manifestations include, fever, myalgia and malaise, anorexia, and headache. Although most symptoms end within 48 hours, the elderly, young children and immunocompromised persons may develop prolonged, or more severe symptoms.

WinCo Foods has removed the potentially affected product from store shelves.

Product was distributed to WinCo Foods stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, Texas, and Utah.

WinCo recalls the following product:

WINCO FOODS FROZEN RED RASPBERRIES, 12 oz bag, UPC 0 70552 30501 4.
Best By Code Feb/13/2021 with lot number 4045902. The best code is found on the back side of a bag next to the UPC bar code.

No customer illnesses have been reported to date. WinCo Foods was informed by the FDA that a sample of the product was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Norovirus.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Norovirus outbreaks. The Norovirus lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Norovirus and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $650 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Norovirus lawyers have litigated Norovirus cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a number of food products and restaurants.

If you or a family member became ill with Norovirus after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Norovirus attorneys for a free case evaluation.

The CDC and public health and regulatory officials in California, Nevada, Alaska, Illinois and New Hampshire are investigating a multistate outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Shigella flexneri, STEC non-O157, Vibrio albensis, Campylobacter lari, and norovirus genogroup 1 illnesses linked to raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon estuary in Baja California Sur, Mexico. On May 6, one U.S. distributor of oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon issued a voluntary recall  On May 7, Estero El Cardon was closed to further oyster harvesting pending investigation.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence for these cases indicated people ate raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico. State public health officials identified additional illnesses among people who also ate raw oysters from the same harvest area.

As of May 10, 2019, 16 ill people have been reported from five states. Ill people in this outbreak have been infected with multiple pathogens causing illness, including Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Shigella flexneri, STEC non-O157, Vibrio albensis, Campylobacter lari, and norovirus genogroup 1.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. All 15 people who were interviewed reported eating raw oysters from different restaurants in California and Nevada. State health officials collected traceback information for 15 cases and found that oysters were shipped by SOL AZUL, S.A. DE C.V. (MX 01 SS) and harvested from Estero El Cardon (an estuary).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 16, 2018 to April 4, 2019. Among 15 people with information available, ages range from 26 to 80 years, with a median age of 38. Sixty-seven percent are male. Of 15 people with clinical information available, 2 (13%) hospitalizations were reported. Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This can take 4 or more weeks.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today recommended that consumers avoid eating raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico, because they are linked to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses in California.

In California, 12 individuals have reported illness in February, March, and April after consuming raw oysters sold by restaurants and retailers located in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties. The raw oysters have been distributed throughout the state. Laboratory testing was performed for eight cases and multiple pathogens were identified: Vibrio parahaemolyticus (3), Vibrio albensis (1), Vibrio species unidentified (1), Shigella flexneri serotype 1 (2), and norovirus (1). One of the Vibrio parahaemolyticus cases was co-infected with non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The investigation is ongoing.

CDPH continues to work closely with local health jurisdictions to collect information about the cases. Traceback evidence collected to date confirms that the oysters were harvested from Estero El Cardon. Shellfish authorities in Mexico have been notified about the outbreak and are investigating. Restaurants and retailers can protect customers by checking their inventory and shellfish tags that are required to identify the source to avoid any raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico. This will ensure that potentially contaminated raw oysters are not available for purchase, and any leftover contaminated products are discarded. Consumers should ask the retailer or restaurant about the source if the product is not labeled or identified.

California residents should visit their doctors if they become ill after eating raw oysters. Any illness should also be reported to the local health department. Some tips to remember include:

  • Avoid eating raw and undercooked shellfish, including oysters, to reduce the risk of illness.
  • If you do eat shellfish, cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F. Quick steaming isn’t sufficient to prevent gastrointestinal illness from these pathogens.”