Oscar’s of Breckenridge Salmonella Outbreak and Litigation
In July 2016, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Summit County Public Health (SCPH) investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Ohio. Infection occurred among patrons and staff of Oscar’s of Breckenridge which was found to have substantial food handling deficiencies. In total 19 cases were identified. Of those, 7 were patrons and 12 were workers. Among patrons, 4 were laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Ohio. Three were probable cases. Ill customers dined at Oscar’s on between July 1 and July 4. Investigators planned to conduct a case-control study in an effort to determine a specific contaminated food item. However, because the restaurant did not have reservation logs, online ordering or take out logs from which to identify potential controls, efforts to identify a sufficient number non-ill restaurant patrons were not successful. Thus, no specific food item could be implicated as the source of infection.
All 12 employees were laboratory confirmed with Salmonella Ohio. Seven of the 12 employees reported some form of illness, however one reported only headache with an unknown onset date and another reported only fever without reporting onset date. The remaining five reported some form of gastrointestinal illness with onset dates from July 1 through July 10.
Summit County Environmental Health (SCEH) conducted an on-site investigation at Oscar’s of Breckenridge on July 15. Violations included spoiled milk, potential cross contamination between raw meat and ready-to-eat foods, ill staff working, improper hot holding, thermometers not calibrated and the mechanical dish machine not sanitizing. The restaurant was closed on July 15. On July 22, the Oscar’s of Breckenridge reopened. SCEH made a total of 7 visits to the restaurant to ensure compliance with public health requirements. Two of the post-reopening inspections resulted in more potential cross contamination violations. Summit County Environmental Health’s civil penalty process was initiated before compliance was achieved. After the final employee was cleared for Salmonella Ohio infection, a “no further action required” letter was issued on 10/17/2016.