South GA E-Coli source confirmed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South GA E-Coli source confirmed

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

July 10, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Health investigators confirmed on Wednesday the source of a Colquitt County e-coli outbreak.

Ground beef from the Barbecue Pit Restaurant in Moultrie tested positive for E. coli.

Now they have to make sure any utensils that could have come in contact with the tainted meat are disinfected.

The restaurant remains closed nearly a week after health investigators first suspected it was the source of the outbreak.

"The ground beef that was tested from the restaurant has been confirmed to be positive for the e-coli," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, S.W. Georgia Public Health Director.

The Health Department says the Barbecue Pit Restaurant makes its own hamburger meat. The contaminated beef in the sample has been traced to sirloin steak supplied by a middleman who is saying that it acquired beef products from Nebraska Beef.

The beef in question shares the same dates as the beef in the Nebraska Beef recall, but the meat cut itself does not appear to be part of the recall.

The restaurant will now begin a detailed process to decontaminate the facility. Health officials say the owners have been very cooperative.

"They actually volunteered to close, or to cease operations," said Grant.

The outbreak began in late June, to date there are eight confirmed cases of e-coli, four suspected cases, and other possible infections.

Hollis Hood owns Roosters in Albany. He says restaurants follow strict guidelines when it comes to food preparation and storage, to try to keep their customers safe.

"You know obviously no one wants something like this to happen, and some things cannot be avoided. You always want to make sure that if you take the proper steps, you could minimize anything like this from happening," said Hollis Hood, Roosters' Owner/Operator.

To make sure the food you order is safe, and no potential food contamination spreads, the kitchen staff uses gloves, ensure surfaces are clean, and make sure they don't re-use utensils with different food products.

"Everyone has to be careful and make sure we're doing the right things, because even though some things can't be avoidable there are some steps to protect us so we don't have these cases very often," said Hood.

Investigators connected a strain of e-coli in the Moultrie outbreak to a multi-state outbreak, caused by tainted meat from Nebraska Beef, Ltd.

That company recently recalled more than five million pounds of beef.

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