City Paper is not for tourists
Diners at Fig & Olive, located at CityCenterDC, won’t be able to order truffle fries and mushroom croquettes for a while, after the District Department of Health required the restaurant remove those items from its menus following a recent salmonella outbreak linked to the eatery.
DOH today confirmed that 10 cases of salmonella have been diagnosed in patients who visited Fig & Olive this month, and that an additional 150 “possible cases” are now being investigated. The agency closed the restaurant for the past six days, as residents of the District and five states became ill, exhibiting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. DOH Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said the outbreak was not traced to a sick Fig & Olive employee or tainted cucumbers—the latter a suspect in hundreds of salmonella cases seen nationwide. Forensic agents haven’t yet identified a cause.
“It’s very rare to isolate [an outbreak] to a particular ingredient in food,” Nesbitt explained at a press conference this afternoon. “We have been able to conclude that [the mushroom croquettes and truffle fries] are the most likely items on the menu [that may have contributed to the cases].”
Nesbitt added that DOH reviewed Fig & Olive’s food-handling practices and employee training as well as sanitation efforts after the outbreak appeared. Additionally, the restaurant has destroyed its food inventory, meeting the agency’s requirements for it to reopen today. (Around 4:30 p.m., Fig & Olive was mostly empty, though a handful of waiters and patrons could be seen on its premises.)
The 150 “possible cases” include anyone who dined at the restaurant in a party that saw at least one person eventually present with symptoms of salmonella. DOH will monitor the restaurant “under increased [compliance] supervision,” Nesbitt said, for the next two months.
“I have dined there [and] I don’t see a reason for me not to go back in the future,” Nesbitt said.
DOH hasn’t yet published a food-inspection report detailing what it found at the eatery, typically available online, and Nesbitt didn’t have a copy of it with her at the press conference. Interviews with patients, she clarified, allowed the department to determine the most-likely sources of the salmonella. However, DOH hasn’t tied these cases to other salmonella strains across the country.
Fig & Olive has seven other locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Photo by Jessica Sidman