In September 2003, the Conway family dined out at King Garden Buffet, a Chinese restaurant in Wooster, Ohio. After a few days Alex and Christine noticed that their two-year old child, Lilian, became very ill and was diagnosed to have been infected with Escherichia coli or E. coli O157:H7. The girl suffered diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. E. coli is a form of bacteria found in the intestines of animals such as cattle and can spread through drinking water, animal feces, and undercooked meat products mostly during the slaughtering process. The restaurant closed for a week pending investigation by the Wayne County Health Department. Food safety inspector found several violations against the restaurant that could have caused the disease. It was determined that Jell-O was contaminated with E. coli due to improper food storage. The Jell-O was placed under raw meat in the refrigerator with below temperature. Further investigations linked the restaurant to 10 other cases of E. coli in the area.
More often foodborne illnesses in restaurants are caused by unhygienic environment and can only be resolved trough strict implementation and practice of cleanliness. To fix the problems employees of the restaurant need to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and hot water before and after each food preparation. They have been required to wear hair restraints all the time while at work. Management would make sure that each worker is healthy and not sickly during the performance of their jobs. Importantly each food product must have its own container with cover and should be placed under the right temperature so as to avoid cross contamination while in the refrigerator or cooler. Raw products such as meat must be placed at the bottom of the refrigerator so that its juices could not spoil other foods. Uncooked and cooked foods must be separated at all times during storage. Left-overs must be refrigerated appropriately and disposed within four hours. All utensils must be thoroughly cleaned as well as the work area with hot water, soap and rinsing. Finally, foods must be carefully cooked and reheat according to their proper temperature. In addition, a regular monthly inspection from the health department must be conducted to ensure the restaurant observes appropriate food safety measures.
This development created adverse consequences to the business operations of the restaurant where big financial losses incurred and customers losing trust. Management negligence to food safety damaged the reputation of the restaurant. Families of the victims, mostly children, sued the King Garden Buffet for its carelessness. Parents were horrified and became afraid of eating out again. People have been reluctant to dine in the restaurant after it reopened for fear of being food poisoned.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 73,000 cases of E. coli takes place across America each year where some 60 people die due to complications. As the owner, I would approach this problem very seriously taking into considerations the loss of income, lawsuits, ruined reputation and personal integrity that can destroy my business. To prevent such setback I will employ quality control to ensure that what I serve to my customers are clean and healthy food. I will start by carefully checking my suppliers that they give me only fresh products. I will be visiting manufacturing plants and farms to guarantee my food products are dirt free. I will tell my employees to be always vigilant and observe cleanliness providing them training to update their skills in food handling as well as safe food storage. I will invest in keeping my restaurant hygienic with proper garbage disposal, unpolluted kitchen, and sanitary bathroom with soap and towels. I will hire a food technologist to make certain every food is safe to eat before serving. Lastly, I will have to comply with state regulations so as not to be caught off guard with violations. Restaurants have the obligations to serve safe and healthy foods to people. Customers should deserve what they pay for since the business relies on them.
Powell, C. (2003). Family Sues Restaurant over Illness. Beacon Journal. Marler Clark. News Archives. Retrieved August 19, 2007, from http://www.marlerclark.com/news/kinggarden2.htm