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The Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel that was closed permanently in November has been connected to 11 cases of Salmonella food poisoning, the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department said.
The Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel closed its doors for good on Nov. 30, after company officials said they could not guarantee that the restaurant had eliminated its Salmonella contamination.
Workers at the restaurant, which conducted business for almost 25 years, had been working with health authorities to identify the source of a strain of Salmonella found only in southwest Michigan.
“In support of this investigation, we’ve taken steps to address any risk that may be present in our Kalamazoo store, and we’ve made substantial upgrades to the store and its procedures above standard requirements,” Cracker Barrel officials said in an emailed statement to MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette at the time the closing was announced.
“However, despite the extraordinary efforts made to eradicate the presence of this strain in the store environment, we couldn’t get comfortable that we could prevent a reoccurrence and therefore we have made the very difficult decision to close the Kalamazoo location effective immediately.”
Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel: problems in May
Cracker Barrel officials voluntarily closed the restaurant from May 21 to June 28 to remodel the kitchen. The restaurant was reopened after an inspection and approval by the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department’s environmental health staff.
The Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel remained operational until Nov. 8, then closed from Nov. 8 to Nov. 13 to upgrade the dish room. The restaurant reopened Nov. 13 after being inspected again by the county’s health department.
Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel: recent case
A case of Salmonella food poisoning that was diagnosed in November prompted an expedited environmental test by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Cracker Barrel’s private testing firm on Nov. 20, the health department said. On Nov. 28, the health department received a letter from Cracker Barrel’s corporate office stating that it would permanently close the Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel.
“Final voluntary closure was in response to environmental preliminary test results from Cracker Barrel’s private testing firm indicating that significant Salmonella contamination was found,” the health department said.
Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel: 11 cases in 18 months
The health department matched 11 cases of Salmonella Mbandaka to the Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel since July 2017, health department public information officer Lyndi Warner said. The specific strain of Salmonella Mbandaka that was sickening people at the restaurant is unique to southwest Michigan and is not associated to the restaurant’s supply chain.
Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel: salmonellosis
Salmonella bacteria are responsible for as many as 1.2 million cases of food poisoning in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that of the 1.2 million annual cases, 23,000 victims will need to be hospitalized, and about 450 patients will die.
The bacteria produce an illness called salmonellosis that affects the intestinal tract. The illness can develop anywhere from 12 hours to 72 hours after one ingests food contaminated with Salmonella.
As with most types of food poisoning, symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- fever and chills.
Symptoms can last up to a week, and most people recover without treatment. In some cases, however, diarrhea can become so severe that dehydration occurs and hospitalization is required.
Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel: high risk
People most at risk for complications are children younger than 5, senior citizens, women who are pregnant, and anyone with a suppressed immune system. Those complications can occur when the bacteria enter the bloodstream, and can produce the following conditions:
- meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
- endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s inner lining that usually involves the heart valves.
- osteomyelitis is inflammation of the bone that generally targets the legs, arms, or spine.
- reactive arthritis – or Reiter’s syndrome – is a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in response to a Salmonella infection in another part of the body.
Pregnant women are at a greater risk for contracting salmonellosis because hormonal changes have weakened their immune systems. A pregnant woman who becomes ill from Salmonella can suffer a miscarriage, premature labor, or stillbirth.