Xi’an Noodles customers experience gastroenteritis from possible bacterial toxin
Three customers who ate at Xi’an Noodles in Seattle on December 21, 2018, have become ill with abdominal cramping and diarrhea, symptoms that are suggestive of a bacterial toxin in the food served there. The Public Health Department of Seattle and King County is investigating the outbreak, which involves members of a single meal party who ate and drank at the restaurant on December 21.
Health Department investigators visited the restaurant on December 31, 2018, and identified potential risk factors for bacterial toxin growth. Their findings included significant food safety issues such as incorrect cooling of potentially hazardous foods, improper storage of foods at room temperature, and lack of thermometer use to measure food temperatures.
Restaurant management has since discarded all improperly handled foods and made process changes to correct unsafe food practices at the time of the inspection. Environmental Health investigators will revisit the restaurant within 14 days to ensure compliance with proper food handling practices.
The customers’ symptoms have indicated that they suffered from a bacterial toxin such as bacillus cereus or clostridium perfringens. Bacillus cereus is a type of bacteria that produces toxins. These toxins can cause illnesses characterized by diarrhea and by nausea and vomiting. Bacillus cereus bacteria present in food products multiply quickly at room temperature, making it all the more important to store and heat food at proper temperatures.
Clostridium perfringens is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. These bacteria grow quickly at room temperature but cannot grow at refrigerator or freezer temperatures. Proper storage of food is critical for avoiding outbreaks such as the one at Xi’an Noodles in Seattle. Infections from clostridium perfringens often occur when foods are prepared in large quantities and are then kept warm for a long time before serving.