Sal­monella out­break: 11 in hos­pi­tal

‘Con­tam­i­nated’ award-win­ning uMh­langa restau­rant un­der fire for keep­ing its doors open

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - KAILENE PIL­LAY | kailene.pil­lay@inl.co.za

AN OUT­BREAK of sal­monella food poi­son­ing at an award-win­ning uMh­langa restau­rant has left more than 11 peo­ple in hos­pi­tal.

Dis­grun­tled pa­trons took to so­cial me­dia yes­ter­day, claim­ing they be­came vi­o­lently ill af­ter eat­ing at Old Town Italy at the week­end.

The owner of the pop­u­lar eatery, Renzo Scrib­ante, con­firmed last night he had been told that at least 11 peo­ple had landed in hos­pi­tal since Mon­day.

He said they sus­pected the source of the out­break was from the restau­rant’s fa­mous hol­landaise sauce, which is tra­di­tion­ally made with raw eggs.

In a state­ment on Face­book yes­ter­day, he said: “Over the last three days we have re­ceived re­ports of peo­ple who had fallen ill af­ter eat­ing break­fast at the restau­rant.

“We took im­me­di­ate ac­tion af­ter be­ing con­tacted by the first in­di­vid­ual. We have been in con­tact with all fam­i­lies and the Depart­ment of Health to get to the bot­tom of the is­sue.”

Im­me­di­ate pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures at the restau­rant in­cluded stop­ping the in-house pro­duc­tion of the hol­landaise sauce and hav­ing it re­placed with a pre-man­u­fac­tured vari­ant.

“We have quar­an­tined all ba­con and egg prod­ucts and changed to an al­ter­na­tive sup­plier im­me­di­ately.”

He said they had also in­formed sup­pli­ers about the out­break and re­quested tests on prod­ucts.

In ad­di­tion, the restau­rant had con­ducted mul­ti­ple tests with in­de­pen­dent lab­o­ra­to­ries, Scrib­ante said, and he was await­ing re­sults.

He said there had been no new cases re­ported since the pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures were im­ple­mented.

He added that the restau­rant’s doors re­mained opened for busi­ness.

The fa­ther of one of the pa­trons hos­pi­talised said he was con­sid­er­ing le­gal ac­tion against the eatery for not shut­ting its doors.

“We love Old Town Italy and eat there al­most ev­ery week­end. My el­dest son had the break­fast on Sun­day that had the hol­landaise sauce in it. We all ate the same lunch and din­ner but he was the only one who fell ill,” he said.

Speak­ing from his son’s hos­pi­tal bed­side, the man, who did not want to be named, said his son be­gan vom­it­ing vi­o­lently at around 3am on Mon­day and de­vel­oped a se­vere fever and stom­ach cramps. He said he rushed his son to ca­su­alty at uMh­langa Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal due to vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea.

“My son has been in hos­pi­tal since Mon­day and the doc­tor said he does not know when he will be dis­charged. He has di­ar­rhoea and has lost weight.”

Sev­eral Face­book posts called for the restau­rant to be shut down.

A post by Patrick Franco re­ceived 52 shares and more than 120 com­ments, mostly by peo­ple claim­ing they had taken ill. In his post, Franco said he made calls and sent mes­sages to Old Town Italy and was told it was “well aware of the sit­u­a­tion that has been go­ing on for months”.

“They claim to have done tests and changed the recipe for the sauce, but each day there are more and more peo­ple ar­riv­ing at hos­pi­tal with the same symp­toms from the same source, Old Town Italy, uMh­langa. Time to close the doors? Cus­tomers’ health should be on top of your pri­or­i­ties, not fat­ten­ing your pock­ets,” Franco posted.

An­other up­set foodie, Michelle Cur­rie, said her fam­ily and oth­ers she knew had taken ill.

“I hope your doors have been closed un­til you have found out what has been con­tam­i­nated. Please be care­ful ev­ery­one of go­ing to Old Town un­til they know what is in­fected.”

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