Last week, an outbreak of E. coli food closed the Matador restaurant in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. On Monday, health officials stated that the outbreak may be linked to more illnesses in Washington and three other states.

Public health officials cited the Matador 10 times for improper food-handling practices in recent history, according to public-health records. Six violations concerned failure to keep food at the proper temperatures. Failure keep food at the proper temperatures may result in the growth of bacteria potentially dangerous to human health, such as E. coli and Salmonella.

Five people fell ill with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157:H7 after eating at the Matador in August. Three people were hospitalized. One of the individuals hospitalized as part of the outbreak includes a 16-year-old girl hemolytic uremic syndrome, an acute kidney condition recently explained in a Food Poisoning News post.

Outbreak Spreads Beyond Reach of Matador Restaurant

Two more Washington cases detected since the outbreak was first announced have no known connection with the Matador, according to the state Department of Health.

Furthermore, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that three cases with the same genetic fingerprint have been detected in three other states. One of those people, however, visited Seattle and ate at the Matador in Ballard.

This revelation seems to indicate not all of the cases linked to this outbreak share the Matador restaurant as a common source, although the restaurant closed Friday afternoon when inspectors with Public Health – Seattle & King County temporarily suspended the restaurant’s business permit pending a thorough cleaning and sanitization.

It is also possible that the additional cases aren’t part of the same outbreak linked to the Matador, officials said.

At this point, the outbreak looks “more like a potential source, a contaminated product,” said Dr. Meagan Kay, a medical epidemiologist with King County. State and federal officials have taken over the probe, Kay said.

Matador Owner Asks For Quick Investigation: “It’s our reputation on the line”

The owner of the restaurant, Zak Melang, runs multiple establishments — in fact, Melang runs 14 sites in several states. Melang said early this week that the problem may lie with an outside vendor. He urged health officials “to investigate quickly to clear his name,” local media reports.

“It’s our reputation on the line,” he said Monday. “The questions aren’t stopping.”

Four people who ate at the restaurant on Aug. 14 and one who did so on Aug. 22 are among those ill. Another person ate there sometime between those dates. According to public health officials, they received the first report of illness on Aug. 22; the most recent case was reported on Sept. 6.

If you or a family member became ill have been diagnosed with E. coli and you would like to explore pursuing a legal claim, contact an attorney at Ron Simon & Associates for a free case evaluation by calling 1-888-335-4901 or filling out our free case evaluation form.