The Nash County Health Department is investigating a possible foodborne illness outbreak in Nash County after 75 people reported becoming ill after eating at Ribeye’s Steakhouse in Nashville last week.
Two people were hospitalized after eating there and have been released, but it has not been confirmed whether their illnesses were associated with eating at the restaurant, said health department spokeswoman Amy Belflower Thomas.
She could not say what food dish at the restaurant, if any, might have caused the illnesses.
She said health department officials are interviewing people who reported feeling ill after eating there to find out what they had eaten.
“Seventy-five people have called us and said they were sick or ate with someone who was sick, and gave me their names,” Thomas said. “It’s not like we’ve gone out and asked people to call us.”
Nash County Health Director Bill Hill said in a prepared statement issued late Monday afternoon that staff at the health department responded to the complaints immediately after the first report last Thursday.
“Environmental health staff inspected the restaurant, have collected food samples for testing and have worked closely with the restaurant to ensure proper precautions are in place to stop transmission,” the press release states.
Clinical staff at the health department have interviewed people at the restaurant who reported feeling sick after eating at the restaurant and have coordinated clinical testing through the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health. Initial data indicates that sick people ate at the restaurant beginning April 29, the press release states.
“Most sick persons have experienced symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, abdominal cramps and fever,” the release states. “At this time, the specific illness and source of transmission have not been confirmed, but laboratory results are expected later this week.”
Most cases seem to be mild to moderate in nature and were resolved within 24 to 48 hours without medical treatment, the release states.
Janice Manning, an owner of Ribeye’s Restaurant, said patrons can feel confident the food served is safe to eat.
“I just spoke to the health department recently,” she said. “I’ve not heard that anything was confirmed. They are working on it.”
She said the restaurant has been sanitized and all of the food that was there when the complaints were filed has been thrown out.
“We are probably the safest place in town (to eat),” Manning said.
She noted the restaurant has had consistently high grades from the health department on its sanitation report card.
“Once we found out about the issue, we worked diligently with the health department, and they have been extremely helpful to us in every step,” she said. “Our loyal customers have been coming out (to eat there) since this issue to show that they are supporting us and trusting us.”
The restaurant is cooperating fully in the investigation and environmental health staff is working with the restaurant to ensure all precautions are being taken to prevent any further illnesses, the health department release states.