Fig and Olive Salmonella Outbreak in D.C. Area, in which 159 Victims Identified, has been Traced Back to Truffle Oil
According to a recent article by health professionals at the CDC’s center for Epidemic Intelligence Service and the Center for Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, the source of a large Salmonella outbreak in September of 2015 was truffle oil. The finding supports earlier speculation, but this is the first scientific publication to specifically name truffle oil in the Fig and Olive outbreak. Ironically, this announcement comes as the statute of limitations is approaching for pursuing a claim against Fig and Olive by the victims of the outbreak.
The outbreak was announced on September r 8, 2015, just after the first confirmed case was identified, The on-premise investigation looked at the restaurant’s food safety practices and tested food that was being held. The investigation found that only one food was positive for Salmonella, and that was truffle fries. The restaurant was closed from September 10th to the 16th while the investigation was ongoing, and allowed to reopen on the 16th.
The vast majority the infected persons (90% of those identified as having become ill) developed the symptoms of salmonellosis between August 31st and September 10th. Given the number of victims, the quick actions of local health departments likely prevented many hundreds of additional illnesses.
According to Dr. S. Janet Kuramoto-Crawford, who along with her colleagues performed the study and trace-back investigation, 259 people who ate at the Fig and Olive were interviewed, including 95 control subjects and 159 confirmed or suspected victims of food poisoning. They compared the food eaten by 155 of the victims and compared that to 88 of the control subjects. Only six items that were significant and three of them contained truffle oil.
In short, 89% of the victims recalled eating truffle oil-containing products while only 57% of the control group did so. This was a statistically significant difference and supported the finding that the truffle fries contained Salmonella.