A Mexican seafood restaurant at the center of a Shigella outbreak improperly cooled its shrimp broth and octopus dishes, according to the Santa Clara County Dept. of Environmental Health.
Those were the findings of inspector Frederick Kieu of Mariscos San Juan No. 3 at 205 N. 4th Street in San Jose on Oct. 18 and posted online Friday.
The health department also announced on Friday that the number of Shigella cases reported to Santa Clara County rose to 141, the vast majority stemming from those who ate at the restaurant last week. A total of 118 of these cases are Santa Clara County residents, the health department reported, and 23 reported cases are people who live in other counties. Of the 141 total cases, 49 are lab confirmed; 35 of which are Santa Clara County residents. There are 14 confirmed cases from other jurisdictions, including San Mateo County, Alameda County and Santa Cruz County.
The restaurant, which has been closed since Sunday, was found to be in violation of a “major risk,” the inspection report shows, because some of the food was “partially cooked” and “potentially hazardous.” The inspection report states that containers of shrimp, shrimp broth and octopus found in the restaurant were not cooled to 41 degrees before it was put it into the refrigerator.
The owners have been cooperating with county health inspectors, officials have said, but have refused several interview requests.
The restaurant was dinged by the county in August for the same issue of improper cooling methods, along with being cited for improper food handling methods – the most likely source of Shigella, health officials have said. The bacteria makes people vomit and have diarrhea, and is spread through tiny microbes of fecal matter, most often left on hands because of improper washing.
In August, inspectors found that employee food handler cards were not available. State law mandates that restaurants show proof that food handlers have been trained, and provide those cards to authorities upon request. The restaurant ended up correcting those issues and received a passing grade by the county, records show.
The latest inspection report does not cite Mariscos San Jan No. 3 for improper food handling or hand washing, but the inspector noted that “all food prep surfaces were told to be sanitized” because of a possible food-borne illness that occurred on Oct. 16 and 17. All food items in the restaurant, the inspector noted, have been impounded.