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No Smoking Gun at Los Gatos Subway

Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health consumer protection division says inspection reveals no direct correlation between couple's food poisoning and food being sold at sandwich shop.

No smoking guns or a direct correlation has been found by health inspectors and a report last week from two Los Gatos residents that they became ill with food poisoning from eating at the Subway on Los Gatos Boulevard, county health officials said.

Heather Forshey, director of the Consumer Protection Division for the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, said the agency's inspector didn't have enough information to conclude that

The couple contacted Los Gatos Patch on Monday, April 16 after they said they had become extremely sick with a bad case of food poisoning and asked for help into looking at what made them sick.

They alleged they were certain they had gotten sick from eating at the popular sandwich shop located at 14777 Los Gatos Blvd. and that a doctor had diagnosed them with food poisoning and had prescribed Promethazine to help them deal with symptoms that included stomach crams, abdominal pain and vomiting, among others.

Forshey said a stool laboratory sample from the couple would have helped the agency's investigation; however that was not provided.

"Generally it helps us because it would show what kind of organism made the individuals sick. It's extremely helpful to us," Forshey said.

Forshey also explained typically the average onset time for a food-borne illness is about two days. "We're not certain that something the complainants ate further back in time wasn't what made them sick or they may have been exposed to a heinous norovirus together at an event earlier during the week, which would have been confirmed with a stool sample," she said.

"We don't have enough information for our results to conclude that their food-borne illness was caused by this facility," Forshey said.

The couple said they received a call Tuesday morning after an inspector from the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health visited the sandwich shop and discovered that the meat and cheese were at 47 degrees F rather than the required 41 degrees F.

They also said there was drinking water near the food, which could spill on what's being served to the public.

Gurpreet Sachdev, the owner of the Los Gatos Subway, said she had been in contact with an inspector from the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health and that she was working with her insurance carrier and had informed the food vendor.

Forshey said the department regularly inspects all facilities in the county and those inspections are posted online at www.ehinfo.org.

She also indicated all violations are posted online and inspectors work with all food operators in the county to provide safe and wholesome food to the public. 

"If anyone wants to see the violations that were observed at the time of any inspection for any food facility, all they need to do is go to our website and take a look," she said.

About the discrepancy in the food temperature for the meat and cheese at the establishment, Forshey said the required refrigeration temperature for all food is 41 degrees F.

"Some of the food items were held at a temperature slightly higher, 47-48 degrees and it exceeded what's required," Forshey noted about the Subway inspection. "This was acknowledged in the inspection report and they were required to bring in a refrigeration repair service."

Other unrelated observations made as part of the inspection were that someone was drinking water without a cover on it near the food, but it was unrelated to a food-borne illness, Forshey noted.

The inspection also discovered an obstructed paper towel dispenser due to trays in the way at the hand-washing station and improper hand washing by one of the employees, Forshey said. "All these were corrected immediately," she said.

When businesses are unwilling or unable to correct violations, the department can issue citations and take steps for enforcement, she explained. "The operator worked and cooperated with our department and corrected the violations that were observed."

Meanwhile, the couple emailed this publication Thursday and reported they were feeling better, but were still on liquids. They also said they had head and body aches from the illness and had been contacted by Subway's insurance carrier regarding their medical bills.

Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz April 24, 2012 at 12:35 AM
This sort of thing not only happens at Subway Eatery. Life happens, good or bad you deal with it. And move on...

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