According to Dr. William Nelson, acting director for the Richmond City Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division, salmonella is to blame. Most of the guests who were affected by the contamination did not seek medical care and suffered a range of symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, Nelson says.
Following the incident, the city’s environmental health and epidemiology team inspected the kitchen and banquet rooms, interviewed partygoers and collected information. Nelson says what triggered the outbreak and how it was transmitted has not been confirmed. However, he says: “Roast beef seems to be the most likely cause.”
Nelson stresses the incident was confined to attendees at the one event and did not involve any other people — guests or workers — at the hotel,. “The staff has been very, very helpful,” he says. Meanwhile, he says, city health inspectors are working with the state’s food safety department to rule out other possibilities and recommend how The Jefferson might prevent future incidents.
“Certainly we are very sorry if anyone for any reason got sick,” The Jefferson’s Manning says, adding that the salmonella could have originated before it reached the hotel.
The hotel serves food to thousands of patrons a year, she points out, and because of its stellar reputation is committed to identifying the source and eliminating its chance of reoccurring. The incident is a first for the hotel, Manning says.
Richmond restaurants and food facilities are inspected two to four times a year, Nelson says. The Jefferson’s lounge, TJ’s, as well as Lemaire, boast exemplary ratings, according to the state health department’s Web site, www.vdh.state.va.us.
“The key is to find out what was the cause and learn something from it,” Manning says. — Brandon Walters
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