Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant & Drive Through, located in Odessa, Texas, boasts on its website that the establishment “has been a great tradition to Odessa, Texas’s Mexican & Seafood cuisine for many years.”
Over the past week or so, however, the establishment appears to have had a great tradition giving cases of Salmonella poisoning to a substantial number of its customers.
Now, two individuals who fell ill after eating at the establishment have officially tested positive for Salmonella, according to public health officials, and the restaurant is temporarily closing its doors to the public.
Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant Hospitalizes Two with Confirmed Cases of Salmonella Poisoning in Odessa
Gino Solla, Health Department Director for Ector County, confirmed that “Ajuua’s Mexican Restaurant in Odessa is temporarily closed after two cases of Salmonella” were confirmed by public health officials, according to a local news report.
On Friday, Solla received an unusual number of calls from Ajuua’s customers. What Solla didn’t know was that the restaurant patrons on the other end of the line were essentially warning him of what might end up being the largest outbreak of foodborne poisoning – Salmonella or otherwise – in recent history.
Despite the drastically elevated number of complaints, Solla and restaurant officials opted to sit and wait until confirmation came down from hospital officials that the sick individuals – at least two of whom have had to be hospitalized – officially had Salmonella or some other form of foodborne illness.
Ajuua’s Temporarily Shutting Doors at “Suggestion” of Public Health Officials
According to local news reports, once the County Health Director received official confirmation of the test results, he “suggested” that the restaurant shut its doors until the establishment is able to determine the source of the contamination.
As Solla suggested a sanitary haitus to the restaurant and told the media that the Health Department is still trying to figure out if the illness was spread by an employee or food,
the health department is [still] waiting on results for 18 more probable cases and is in the process of interviewing all 20 victims [one of whom remains hospitalized as a result of his or her illness].
It’s Too Late: Food Safety Course Not a Cure for Those Already Sick
The eating establishment plans to keep its doors closed for only two days, during which it plans to hold a sanitation and food safety course with all of the restaurant staff.
The one-day course is scheduled to be completed today, and the restaurant – which, at least to public knowledge, has no indication of what is causing these illnesses – plans to reopen on Friday.
The reopening will come despite the fact that this one Ajuua’s restaurant may well have caused double the number of Salmonella cases that the county typically sees during a single year – 5 to 12 – in the span of a few days and with no knowledge of whether or not the problem has been fixed.
Owner Apologizes; Will Throw Out Already-Open Food As Precaution Prior to Reopening
The owner of Ajuua’s has spent a significant amount of time apologizing to the community, it would seem, as no story seems to leave out his regret.
To compensate for the sickness, pain, and, in at least two cases, hospitalizations of those who contracted food poisoning at his restaurant, diners will be happy to know that as an “extra precaution” the restaurant has disposed of all of the food that had been unsealed and was being served as some unidentified source was causing people in the restaurant to fall ill.
A resounding assurance to potential diners, indeed.