TRENTON, NJ – The Department of Health is in the preliminary stages of an investigation into approximately six cases of E. coli in four counties that may be associated with a restaurant chain, New Jersey Department of Health spokesperson Dawn Thomas said.
The four counties are Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset and Middlesex, Thomas said.
The New Jersey Department of Health are working with the FDA and the CDC. The state lab is conducting tests to see if the strain of E Coli bacteria (there are many) match. The CDC will then conduct confirmatory tests. As more information becomes available, we will provide that to the public, Thomas said.
The Dept is in the process of gathering food history data because it can be very difficult to determine where someone got sick. Individuals could have eaten a number of meals in a number of places before getting sick. They could have eaten at several restaurants, at home or eaten food purchased at a supermarket. Sometimes the source of the food that made people sick is never determined. That’s why we conduct many interviews with sick individuals to get food history data, Thomas said.
There are two parts to the investigation:
- State lab tests are being done to determine if the strains of E Coli match; then the CDC does confirmatory tests.
- Investigating to try to determine the common food source that made people sick. We’re working with the FDA district office in NJ and our own investigators to trace back sources of food the individuals may have eaten as well as vouchers of food deliveries made to any of the restaurants that may be part of the investigation, Thomas said.