Alejandro's Taqueria Campylobacter Outbreak Lawsuits - California (2016)

In June 2016, Solano County Public Health (SCPH) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) investigated an outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni linked to consumption of food prepared and sold by Alejandro’s Taqueria located at 936 Texas Street in Fairfield, California. Initial reports of illness were made by customers from five separate dining parties. Meal dates occurred between May 26 and May 29. Dates of illness onsets among individuals identified early in the investigation ranged from May 28 to June 1.  

On June 7, health department investigators began to interview ill customers using a restaurant specific questionnaire.  Ill persons were classified using three categories. 

Investigators identified as many as 32 outbreak associated cases. Isolates obtained from patients who were cultured for Campylobacter were tested by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) at the Microbial Diseases Laboratory at the CDPH.  Four genetic strains were identified. These were assigned PulseNet Identification Numbers as follows. 

On June 8, Solano County Environmental Health Division ordered the restaurant to close after an on-site investigation revealed multiple critical food safety violations. Raw chicken and raw chopped cow feet were stored above an open container of molé sauce in the walk-in cooler. Raw meat was stored next to cooked meat in refrigerated drawers. Raw shrimp was stored next to cooked foods in the refrigerator. There were uncovered containers of foods and salsas stored in the refrigerator. Containers of shred cheese and raw chicken were stored on the floor in the walk-in cooler. The floor was wet from water draining from the prep sink.  Several areas, including the prep-line cutting board, floor sinks underneath the steam table and ice machine, drawer handles, hand top surfaces of the griddle stand, needed to be cleaned and sanitized. Buildup was noted on the soap dispenser at the hand wash station and on the shelf above the salsa prep station. Finally, clean pans and lids were stored next to the mop sink.   

County environmental specialists met with the owner of Alejandro’s Taqueria on June 10 to discuss installing a hand wash sink on the main cook line. The County also recommended that the menu be streamlined to minimize the potential for cross contamination.  The owner agreed to these changes and the restaurant reopened on June 11.  

Marler Clark represented 16 individuals affected by the outbreak, achieving settlements covering medical expenses, wage loss, out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.