Habit Burger Grill Norovirus - Washington (2021)

Marler Clark represented five of the victims in this Norovirus outbreak linked to the Habit Burger Grill, located in Shoreline, Washington.

On June 3, 2021, the Seattle King County Department of Health reported 23 Norovirus cases linked to the Habit Burger Grill at 1253 North 205th Street in Shoreline, Washington.

In May 2021 Public Health – Seattle and King County (PHSKC) investigated the outbreak
of norovirus among patrons of Habit Burger Grill at the Shoreline location. The first complaints of illnesses were made by members of a church group where 14 of 29 persons became ill with norovirus-like symptoms after consuming hamburgers from The
Habit Burger Grill on Friday, May 21, 2021. Additional complaints of illness soon followed with illnesses reported in 14 more unrelated meal parties.

In total, 39 people reported becoming ill after eating at The Habit Burger Grill from May 21 to May 25. Four of the 39 acquired their infections secondarily via contact with ill The Habit Burger Grill patrons. About 60% of cases were male and about 40% women. One person was laboratory confirmed with norovirus.

PHSKC Environmental Health investigators visited the restaurant on May 26, 2021. While
onsite, a food worker was observed moving raw ground beef patties with gloved hands from a refrigerated drawer to the flat top. Although the worker removed the gloves worn during the process, she failed to wash her hands before putting on new gloves. Food workers must wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and during food preparation as needed to prevent cross-contamination, when changing tasks, before donning gloves, after using the toilet, and after other activities that contaminate the hands.

Investigators also noted that food contact surfaces were not maintained, cleaned and/or sanitized. Specifically, lettuce debris and pooled water were observed in a large orange lettuce spinner. Also, wire mesh gloves were stored in an unclean drawer in standing water. The restaurant was required to conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection.

Investigators returned to the restaurant on May 28 to conduct onsite food safety and employee illness training with staff and to reinforce the importance of proper cleaning,
disinfection, handwashing, and no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. A final visit was made by PHSKC staff to ensure ongoing compliance with proper food handling practices.