Was it you, meatballs?
I know the norovirus is old news, but the whole Passion of the Organic to Go was just so weird. The University canceled its contract with the reportedly delicious Grab and Go folks even though there no real hard evidence Grab and Go was responsible. The Department of Health final report nudged us that way, though.
We got all the Department of Health e-mails on norovirus, and they had some interesting stuff. Join me as we investigate a weird meatball cover-up, an attempt to block a Leo’s employee from returning to work, and a lawsuit threat.
Probably the best part of the e-mails is the appearance of a new suspect food in the investigation, meatballs provided by Sysco. When asked where the meatballs were, Leo’s told DOH they were all gone, but apparently that wasn’t true. To the best of my knowledge the meatballs were never mentioned to students by DOH or the University. From an e-mail about food inspections from DOH’s Robert Sudler to DOH’s Feseha Woldu (emphasis his):
“The initial suspected food identified by cafeteria staff as a potential problem was meatballs used in an italian dish along with tomato sauce and a mozzerella / provolone cheese blend. Although the facility indicated that ALL of the meatballs had been consumed by students, inspectors did find meatballs on site and they submitted along with other samples collected. We requested that Georgetown University hold a case of meatballs stored at a Sysco location in Jessup, MD.
In the same e-mail, Sudler moans about Leo’s non-existent food temperature documentation and says the Organic to Go warehouse came up clean on an inspection. The meatballs never reappear in the e-mails, and an e-mail from DOH’s John Davies-Cole to DOH’s Pierre Vigilance says Grab and Go “was implicated as the source of the outbreak”, although DOH never performed tests on the Hoya Wraps they took for testing.
The e-mails’ other appealing red herring is a message from the Center for Disease Control about E. coli at Michigan State and a Michigan prison, both locations served by Aramark.
But what about the employee DOH was trying to keep out of the kitchen? He is never named, but the e-mails suggest he was sick right before the outbreak and absent from work. An e-mail from DOH’s Chevelle Glymph about keeping him away from a reopened Leo’s:
The Food Manager should not have an effect on the ability of O’Donovan Hall to open back up , especially if the University has done a complete hall cleaning…Then, he should be restricted from work until information is received from him. I would be concerned about him touching (food) surfaces in the kitchen as is often the cause, and not necessarily the food
There’s a little debate about whether DOH is allowed to keep someone from working, but then they decide “Sure!”. The employee had to get a clearance before his doctor before he could come back to work.
Finally, I don’t know if there have been any lawsuits filed about our norovirus, but DOH’s Peggy Kelly thinks there could be. In an e-mail to Georgetown’s Director of Safety and Environmental Management, she linked to this post about the norovirus and wrote:
Check this out. You may expect lawsuits. But then you can handle anything!!!
Photo from Flickr user DOS82 used under a Creative Commons license