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Officials: Health risk over at Raleigh restaurant

Posted April 22, 2009
Updated April 23, 2009

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— Wake County health officials were investigating what sickened patrons and employees at EVOO, a popular restaurant in the Five Points area, last Friday.

Health officials probe cause of illness at Raleigh restaurant Inspectors: Cross-contanmination might source of restaurant illness

Nine patrons and a chef became suddenly ill at the restaurant at 2519 Fairview Road on the evening of April 17. They experienced stomach cramps, vomiting and dizziness.

Emergency medical workers transported at least seven people, including some from the restaurant and two from a nearby home who had eaten at EVOO, to local hospitals.

A report from health inspectors said that the cook was the first to become sick and went home around 6:30 p.m.

Bob and Jeanne Bonds went to EVOO on Friday and ordered appetizers and entrees. Shortly after starting his entree, Bob Bonds said he became violently ill with stomach cramps and vomiting.

“Everyone has been sick from eating something they shouldn't have at some point in their life, but this struck with such intensity and such quickness, that I knew it was something that I had never experienced before,” Bob Bonds said.

Man gets sick while eating at EVOO Man gets sick while eating at EVOO

“I looked at him. We had been chatting, and he was starting to sweat heavily. He said he was very dizzy,” Jeanne Bonds said.

Jeanne Bonds said she felt fine but soon realized other people were also starting to get sick.

“I was really on high adrenaline, just trying to take care of everybody,” she said.

Although health officials haven't determined what caused the illness, they believe it was a case cross-contamination and are confident that it is no longer a public health threat, so said Andre Pierce, Wake County's director of the environmental health and safety division.

Health inspectors checked out EVOO Saturday and allowed the restaurant to re-open.

"We are sure that a health risk has passed," Pierce said. "Anytime we have an outbreak and we do an investigation (and) we are sure, the restaurant is allowed to continue to operating. So it (EVOO) is operating under our authority."

Robert Duffy, a co-owner of EVOO, said inspectors told him that the source of the illness could have been brought in by a third-party vendor.

Duffy said that all of the customers who became ill ate salads and that health inspectors sent samples of tuna from the restaurant to the federal Food and Drug Administration for testing. He said that the chef who became ill, though, didn't eat.

The inspectors' report from Saturday showed that all refrigerated items had been thrown out from the restaurant.

Health officials said that the people in this case became sick unusually fast. In cases of food poisoning, symptoms usually show up four to six hours after eating. In this incident, the victims became ill almost immediately.

Pierce said that generally, that kind of illness is caused by a live virus or chemical toxin that cannot be avoided by certain cooking techniques. Outside experts said that a possible contaminant could have been a toxic called histamine, which develops when fish stays warm for too long. Histamine can develop anytime from when fish is caught to when it's served in a restaurant.

Duffy said that EVOO is cooperating fully to make sure that this "never occurs again."

Pierce sad that it will take about a week to get back test results and determine the exact cause of the illness.

"I'm very curious as to what caused this, and I want the public to know what caused it," Jeanne Bonds said.

EVOO posts a 92.5 sanitation grade and has received A grades for more than five consecutive years.

19 Comments

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  • 5princesses Apr 24, 2009

    We, the public, should demand to know the final outcome. Hopefully WRAL, our trusted news station, will keep us informed until the culprit is found and released to the general public!

  • lucybear06 Apr 24, 2009

    My heart goes out to the owners. They must be horrified.

  • annemarek Apr 24, 2009

    Yes, a relaxing meal and waiting to get sick. This place is off my list to visit.

  • Whatthehey Apr 23, 2009

    tgcmisc, it's good to consider the possibility of a terrorist attack or attack by a disgruntled employee. That's why NC, NYC, and some other governments have tracking systems that monitor for unusual numbers of complaints of the same symptoms showing up at the ER, and even for unusual patterns in the purchase of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea medications.

  • ncguy Apr 23, 2009

    I agree with the toxin. All other take time to grow.

    All it takes is a box of fruit that got contaminated with a bleech, roach killer etc...

    It usually happens to me when I see the bill. LOL!

  • ladyblue Apr 23, 2009

    Although health officials haven't determined what caused the illness, they are confident that it is no longer a public health threat, so they have allowed EVOO to stay open, said Andre Pierce, Wake County's director of the environmental health and safety division.

    Yea I plan to be there today.HA HA

  • breezy Apr 23, 2009

    What do ya bet we never hear what the culpret was in the end??

  • annejones Apr 23, 2009

    Funny thing...I got sick from eating at Moe's on Tuesday night. Wonder if that same 3rd party vendor is responsible??

  • tgcmisc Apr 23, 2009

    OK...

    Call me Paranoid...

    BUT...

    Could THIS incident have been a "test" for some type of Biotoxin TERRIORIST Attack?

    I have traveled all over the world and eaten at a variety of high class and low class "places". I have NEVER gotten ill during the meal...

    I also have a very NERVOUS stomach...and my friends would say...It MUST have been the alcohol because everyone ate the same thing and I did NOT get sick.

    This would have been a GREAT test...

    1. How QUICKLY folks got ILL

    2. The ER and/or EMS response...

    Just someone who reads TOO much and is a little paranoid's opinion...

    What about you OTHER folks...

  • slaterric Apr 23, 2009

    Actually EVOO has been at this location for at least 7 years now.
    I live in near the restaurant so I am familiar with all the previous establishments.
    Here is the list.
    Johnson's drug store, the Bulldog, the Raven , Maccini's , Riptide's and now EVOO .
    The Raven and EVOO are the best so far. I like the food at EVOO. I hope this does issue not hurt them too much.

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