Raleigh, N.C. — An April incident that sickened 10 people at a popular Five Points restaurant led to an anchovies recall by a national restaurant food-supply company, Wake County health officials said Thursday.
Anchovies purchased from U.S. Food Service caused at least 10 people suddenly to become sick at EVOO restaurant, 2519 Fairview Road, on April 17.
"The last 24 hours has been the biggest sigh of relief I think I've ever experienced in my ten years in the hospitality industry," EVOO owner Robert Duffy said. "Hopefully, with this information, our customers will realize we didn't do anything or could have done anything to prevent it."
Monarch Food Group, a subsidiary of U.S. Food Service, recalled the anchovies because they contain a high level of histamines, which is the leading cause of fish poisoning.
The victims experienced stomach cramps, vomiting and dizziness – symptoms that point to scombroid histamine fish poisoning, said Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, a microbiologist at North Carolina State, after reviewing county health reports two weeks ago at the request of WRAL.
Andre Pierce, director of Wake County's Environmental Health Department, said he believes the sickness was related to salad greens. The incident reports show that all of the customers who became ill ate salads. A sample of tuna was also sent for testing.
Pierce yesterday said he had not heard of the results of testing by the federal Food and Drug Administration. But after 5 on Your Side raised questions, he contacted U.S. Foods to investigate anchovy connection.
Pierce found out that the FDA tested the samples he sent and found high levels of histamine, and then contacted U.S. Foods, which last week recalled the anchovies. Neither the FDA nor U.S. Foods, though, passed along the information to any state or county health officials in
"I'm going to be following up with the FDA and the state to find out why the information didn't come to me more quickly," Pierce said.