Three individuals, including one adult and two children, tested positive for the bacteria E. coli O157:H7 with all persons having reported eating at the Red Robin restaurant located at 799 W. 146th Ave in Westminster, Colorado. Tri-County Health Department inspected the restaurant on July 9, 2019, after receiving information about the outbreak from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Two of the three individuals infected were hospitalized, and the investigation is ongoing.
The inspection found several food safety violations and Red Robin management voluntarily closed the restaurant on July 10 to complete thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the restaurant, food safety training for all employees, and testing of employees who handle food. The critical violations included improper employee handwashing, improper cleaning and sanitizing of food preparation surfaces, and cross contamination between raw meats and other prepared foods. Tri-County Health Department will conduct food safety training and ensure all violations have been corrected before the restaurant reopens.
“We have not yet determined the source of the E. coli O157:H7” said Ashley Richter, Communicable Disease Epidemiology Manager at Tri-County Health Department. “E. coli can be found in raw or undercooked meats, contaminated fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk or juice, and in the stool of people who are infected.”
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection begin 1 to 10 days after ingesting the bacteria and include diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach pain, and sometimes fever and vomiting. Some people, especially young children, could develop a life-threatening condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which requires hospitalization. E. coli O157:H7 infections should not be treated with antibiotics as that could increase the risk of HUS.
The bacteria can be passed from person-to-person when an infected person does not thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet, after diapering, or before preparing food. Cross-contamination can occur if food preparation surfaces are not properly cleaned after contact with raw meat and then the same surface is used to prepare ready-to-eat foods.
Tri-County Health Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are actively investigating the outbreak. Public Health urges people to contact their doctor or health care provider if they ate at this specific Red Robin restaurant since June 1, 2019, and developed diarrhea (especially bloody diarrhea), severe stomach pain, fever and vomiting within 10 days of eating at the restaurant. Talk to your provider about whether testing for E. coli O157:H7 should be done.