Olive Garden E. coli outbreak LawsuitE. coli ETEC outbreaks are commonly associated with exposure in underdeveloped nations lacking modernized sanitation controls; however, outbreaks of the disease in developed nations are on the rise. Symptoms of E. coli ETEC infection range from mild, non-bloody diarrhea, to severe diarrhea that is grossly bloody and accompanied by abdominal pain, fever, malaise, and other flu-like symptoms.
The Multnomah County Health Department (MCHD) learned of the E. coli outbreak at the Gresham, Oregon, Olive Garden restaurant in April of 2005, and began an investigation. MCHD interviewed food handlers and servers at the Olive Garden restaurant, as well as patrons who ate dinner at the restaurant during the exposure period. The agency also tested specimens submitted by patrons and workers exhibiting symptoms of E. coli infection.
MCHD concluded, in part:
As in most situations where no one food item is implicated, the most common suspicion is contamination of a food by a food handler that had contact with an array of menu items. As a number of different servers had ill persons among the parties they served, the most likely sort of food handler in this case would have been a member of the kitchen staff. If one of the kitchen staff were the source of ETEC, they most likely would have handled either appetizers and some sauces or the breadsticks. No kitchen staff reported illness in the days before the 19th. The possibility of asymptomatic carriage should not be ruled out.
Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented two families with members who became ill with E. coli ETEC infections after eating contaminated food at the Gresham Olive Garden. The firm filed an E. coli lawsuit against the Olive Garden in August of 2005, and resolved all clients’ claims late that year.