This is how 350 people managed to get food poisoning at a single food court
Here at Food Envy, we like to keep you up to date with any disease outbreaks that may occur as you go about your day. In a tough and unforgiving world, pretty much the only thing that keeps me going is the idea that I can come home at the end of the day, and bury all of my sorrows in a big bowl of mac and cheese, so if those foods are going to make you sick, I want you to know about it.
So imagine my dismay when I learned that the Fayette Mall in Lexington, Kentucky, was gripped by a food poisoning epidemic, the likes of which we've never seen before. While we're used to seeing a faulty product inflicting damage to thousands of people, this is usually aided by mass production, and it doesn't usually affect 350 people all at once.
It's more than a little odd. How exactly do so many people fall sick at the mall, all at the same time? Buckle up, my lovers of food. This story is going to be quite a journey.
If every meal is a little plastic container of happiness, the food court is pretty much Disneyland; with so many different cuisines in one place, how can anybody ever be unhappy after taking a trip to the food court?! Oh? Yeah, well I guess if you caught norovirus from the food there, that would be pretty upsetting.
According to the Kentucky mall that ended up being ground zero for this particular case of virus outbreak, the supposed start of this ordeal came at a Chick-Fil-A on July 20, which was forced to close when a large number of its employees fell ill. “We’ve decided to keep the restaurant closed a little longer to ensure sanitization, and look forward to serving guests again soon,” said Chick-Fil-A operator Tyler Bruce.
That was Friday; fast forward three days, and the Fayette Mall had to close the doors to its food court so they could sanitised, urging the rest of the mall to do the same. If you know anything about norovirus, you'll know that not only is this virus extremely contagious, it's also very potent.
The US Department of Health and Human Services noted that "norovirus is a very contagious virus that can easily be spread through direct contact with an infected person by consuming contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands near your mouth".
They also released this very illuminating video:
For what it's worth, the Fayette Mall opened its doors once more on Tuesday, after a detailed clean on "tables, chairs, corridors, floors, restrooms and the children’s play areas". Most of the people who were hit with the illnesss did so 24 to 48 hours after visiting the food court.
The symptoms of norovirus include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, and the health department say that the best way to prevent norovirus spreading is to wash your hands regularly, and if afflicted, staying home for two days after the norovirus symptoms stop.