VIRGINIA: Salmonella outbreak
Posted: July 6th, 2009 - 9:39pm
A group of central Virginia dinner guests are starting to recover after coming down with salmonella poisoning. Now, health investigators are looking into whether lasagna from a popular central Virginia pasta shop may be to blame.
The owner of Mona Lisa pasta says his kitchen is not to blame for six central Virginia dinner guests coming down with salmonella. While he says he sold the frozen lasagna, it was not his kitchen that was responsible for cooking it to code.
Chef Jim Winecoff has been creating Italian dishes at his Mona Lisa Pasta Shop on Preston Avenue in Charlottesville for years. Winecoff said, “We’ve been here for eight years now providing lasagna, fresh pastas, sausage, ravioli, through the company.”
Now the health department is looking into whether one of those dishes may have contained salmonella causing a customer's party guests to get sick. Winecoff, said, “The customer has written instructions as to how to prepare the food, to bake at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time, and that's a food-safe temperature.”
Dr. Lilian Peake of the Thomas Jefferson Health District says the investigation is ongoing. She points out that fending off salmonella takes a few simple steps.
Dr. Peake stated, “Even a food that is infected with salmonella, if you do cook it properly and handle it properly, you will greatly reduce the risk of causing salmonella disease.”
Peake says her team has not pinpointed the lasagna as the cause and will look at a variety of factors. “We have to do a thorough investigation of what people were doing, where they ate, where they've been, so that we can really understand what is going on,” she stated.
Winecoff is confident his kitchen is not to blame. Winecoff stated, “We’ve had no trouble whatsoever with our food in the past and I hope this is not a problem with our food.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs is in the process assessing conditions at the pasta shop while the health department continues to interview dinner guests.
A final report is expected in about a week.