Nashville Restaurant allegedly involved in Salmonella Outbreak resulting in 4 Lawsuits

It happens all over the US, however, this one hits close to home. Milk and Honey, in the Nashville Gulch has been identified by Metro Nashville Health Department as the alleged source of an outbreak of Salmonella in August, 2018. Improperly cooked Gnocchi seems to be the culprit in this case, as one of the ingredients were non-pasturized eggs from Gravel Ridge Farms. Farm fresh eggs are fine, as long as they are cooked to the minimum internal cooking temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 145 F is indicated by the FDA as the minimum required temperature for eggs used for immediate service because it can kill the bacterium Salmonella.spp. In this case, apparently that did not happen.

According to Metro Nashville Health Department, the employee or employees preparing the dish were not properly trained in food safety practices. Metro also cites “lack of management oversight” as the primary cause of the Salmonella outbreak. The Alabama egg producer is also named in at least one of the lawsuits.

Lawsuits involving foodborne illnesses can be very costly. These cases are pending, so the outcome is uncertain. These allegations have not yet been proven in court, but one lesson can be taken from the entire episode. Proactive training is needed in ALL foodservice establishments. As the old adage goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (Quote from Benjamin Franklin, 1736.)

Lack of Testing Causes Huge Gap in Food Safety

Have you wondered why we keep having e coli outbreaks caused by contaminated irrigation?  Actually, there is no regulation that requires growers to test their water supply.  Yep.  Farmers can grow their leafy vegetables (the ones most likely to be eaten raw) next door to a cattle farm and share the water source which has been contaminated by cattle or wild animal poop.  They are not required to test for dangerous, toxin producing bacteria.  A law providing such regulation would have gone in to effect six months before the deadly Yuma romaine lettuce outbreak, but the present administration caved to disgruntled growers who felt that the government was overstepping by requiring testing. 

It would have cost growers about 12 million dollars to test.  The outbreak cost 108 million dollars and 5 deaths and many ruined lives.   As tragic as the Yuma outbreak was, it resulted in Arizona and California designing state, water testing regulations.   I think I know where my lettuce will originate.

Honey Smacks Tainted with Salmonella Bacteria

Honey Smacks cereal in any size packaging and bearing a “best if used by” date between June 14, 2018 and June 14, 2019 may contain Salmonella.  The CDC has urged consumers to trash opened and unopened packages displaying those dates.  The popular sweetened puffed wheat cereal has sickened about 1.3 million people. Over 30 states have issued a recall, but the cereal is still available in some stores.  So, if you must eat this product, please check the dates.

South Nashville Bar Underfire Again.

Remember TNT’s Billiards Bar and Grill in South Nashville?  They were sued twice for over serving customers, once on 2013 and again in 2017.  Both lawsuits claimed that the drivers who caused fatal accidents had been drinking at TNT’s and had left too drunk to drive.   Apparently, TNT has not changed their ways.  The latest incident, on June 9, 2018, involved the arrest of John (Tommy) Strickland after he hit an unattended vehicle, a NES pole and his landlord’s fence.  A witness called the Police.  Strickland’s blood alcohol content was .258, more than 3 times the legal limit. He confessed to having drunk 12 shots and 12 beers before heading out to endanger the public.  This time, no one was killed.  What about the next time?

Pre-cut Melon Salmonella Outbreak

 More than 30 people have been hospitalized as a result of a multi-state outbreak of salmonella traced to pre-cut melons and fruit mix containing melons sold in plastic clam shells.  Indiana, Michigan and Missouri have been hit hardest, but the tainted product has also been sold in Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina.  Some of the stores carrying the melons are Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Trader Joes and Whole Foods..  The CDC said that retailers should not sell or serve product distributed by SpartanNash Distribution, Caito Foods Distribution and Gordon Food Service.  If you’re in doubt about the melon in your fridge, throw it out.  Instead, go for whole melons, but remember to wash them well before cutting.

Maybe we should just go back to slicing off big slabs of melon, eating it outside and letting the juice run down our arms. Then, we can just spray everything with the hose. Not quite as handy as a plastic container full of already cut fruit, but more fun.  Of course, there would be flies--Oh, well.


Hepatitis A in Nashville


Officials with Metro Public Health have confirmed that 14 cases of Hepatitis A have been reported in Nashville since December 1, 2017.  Outbreaks have been previously reported in Kentucky and in Indiana.  Hep A is more commonly found among the homeless population, illicit drug users, and men who have sexual contact with men.  However, it may be contracted through ingesting the virus from contaminated food or contact with contaminated objects. Preventive vaccine is available and Nashville officials are urging that all young children be vaccinated. For information about availability of vaccine check the following link:

In developing or transitional countries, because of improved sanitation, numbers of children have escaped infection and thus immunity. According to The World Health Organization, outbreaks of Hep A in these communities reach higher intensity because more adults are susceptible.  It's ironic that because of improved economic and sanitation conditions, the population may be in greater danger of a sustained outbreak.



Egg Recall

The Salmonella Braenderup outbreak, traced to Rose Acre Farms in North Carolina, and headquartered in Seymour, Indiana, resulted in a recall of over 206 million eggs and sickened over 35 people in 8 states. Inspectors reported “unacceptable rodent activity.”  How acceptable is any rodent activity?  The description of the level of infestation sounded as though the rats had taken over.  Workers were bypassing sanitation steps, and the building and equipment were dirty.  Listed among buyers from this facility were Walmart and Waffle House. The problem started several years ago.  Apparently, nothing effective was done about it.

Commenting on the report, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said, “This most recent Salmonella outbreak resulting in a massive recall is another example of how the ultra-consolidated factory farm system can have major consequences for food safety. That one facility can so quickly supply so many stores with tainted food shows that we need more regulation, not less, of our food supply. And repeated violations over the years show that the company continues to act recklessly where food safety protocols are concerned.”

Romaine Lettuce E-coli Outbreak

The E-coli outbreak traced to the Yuma, Arizona, growing area has resulted in at least 121 infections in 25 states.  Fifty-two people have been hospitalized; fourteen have suffered kidney failure and at least one has died.  The bad news is the fact that it takes several days for an individual to get sick and several more for the illness to be reported.  So, there could be more victims in the next few weeks. The good news is that the growing season in the Yuma area is over.  The romaine available in stores and restaurants is now being shipped from other locales.

Unlike food that you cook, there is no kill-step in preparing fresh salads. That’s why the culprit of food borne illness is often fresh produce.  We are fond of the prepackaged, triple-washed , ready-to-eat salads; but Microbiologist Michele Jay-Russell, a food-safety expert at U C Davis  points out that if the prewashed greens have been infected, it is next to impossible to  wash off bacteria at home.  Well, isn’t that why you spend the extra money for prewashed greens?  So you don’t need to wash them at home?  I guess it’s good to know that further washing is pointless.   She did say, “Most of the time, they’re fine.”   Now, I feel better.

Hep A in Kentucky

Hepatitis A vaccine was recommended for those visiting Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.  Indiana health officials issued the warning in response to the report of almost 300 cases in Jefferson County, home of the Derby.  Although The CDC was not responsible for the warning, they have noted that Hepatitis A infection is up by over 85% from last year.  It may have taken the publicity surrounding the famed horse race to bring the severity of the outbreak to public attention.  Though at least one Kentucky restaurant worker has been identified as positive for Hepatitis A, it is a disease commonly found among the homeless and the drug population and can be traced to poor sanitation.  One Kentucky newspaper complained that the state had been “called a third-world country” by the Indiana Health Officials.

If it takes casting a shade over the state’s biggest tourist event of the year (170,000 people and $400 million in revenue) to bring the outbreak into the limelight, we say, “Giddyup!”




Raw Pork

Raw Pork has been implicated in the cases of trichinellosis among party guests who ate a traditional Laotian dish called larb.  The meat came from a domesticated wild boar (oxymoron anyone?) which was raised and slaughtered at the host’s private farm in northern California.  The minced meat salad was served on December 28, 2017, and in January 2018, twelve cases were reported--nine were hospitalized with two in intensive care.  The CDC said eating the raw pork was “significantly associated” with the illness.  You think??  This illness involves ingesting worm larva which deposit eggs in the intestines.  The eggs hatch and the resulting immature worms make their way into arteries and muscles.  Sorry, the recipe was not available to share.


The Norovirus strikes again!  During my classes, we frequently discuss the Norovirus, as it is one of the major concerns in food safety and the CDC is watching closely for more and more outbreaks.  We hear about these all the time and they are becoming more common. I often tell my students that Norovirus can be associated with high risk environments such as prisons, hospitals, elderly and day care facilities, and of course, cruise ships.  Here is the latest on a cruise ship from the UK, the Balmoral, that has ported today in Norfolk, Virginia with over 150 ill passengers.  This is about 17% of the people on board this relatively small ship.  The CDC has ordered the ship and persons aboard to be quarantined and tested, however these numbers could increase rapidly due to the ability of the virus to spread so quickly.


Many of my students ask me about toxic mushrooms.  Below is a great website to reference if you are curious about mushrooms.  The best rule is to not eat those that are wild-picked, you should only buy mushrooms from approved, reputable suppliers. Many illnesses occur each year when inexperienced mushroom hunters accidentally mistake toxic specimins for edible ones.  All mushroom hunters should be able to identify both edible and toxic mushrooms in their fresh and dried state.


E-Coli outbreak, Oct/Nov. 2015

This is pretty scary. Foodborne Illness outbreaks happen all the time, but rarely does it command as much attention as the recent one involving Chipotle restaurants.  They have done the correct thing by closing the stores, cleaning and sanitizing, and re-evaluating their food safety procedures.


New website!

I am now embarking on another phase of this journey.  A while back, my Mother decided I needed a website for my small company.  I really did not know how to get started until I had the good fortune to meet my awesome web designer, Danny Coleman, completely by accident.  This new website is a product of Danny's imagination and a lot of questions that he asked me, some of which I had no answers for.  It is still a work in progress and is likely to be forever, but it's a great start.  Thanks Danny!