South Carolina

Almost 300 people got sick at SC restaurant, state health department says. Here’s why

How DHEC decides whether a restaurant gets an ‘A’ or a ‘C’

DHEC conducts inspections — what it calls a “snapshot in time” of retail food establishments’ employee behavior and preparation practices — annually or quarterly depending on the establishment’s food processes and compliance history.
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DHEC conducts inspections — what it calls a “snapshot in time” of retail food establishments’ employee behavior and preparation practices — annually or quarterly depending on the establishment’s food processes and compliance history.

Almost 300 people who ate at a Mexican restaurant in South Carolina reported becoming sick, according to the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control.

DHEC said it completed an investigation into La Carreta Mexican Restaurant in Summerville. The findings released Thursday follow reports of illness at the restaurant in early December, according to WCIV.

“Following the initial complaints, an attempt was made to contact each original complainant, requesting that each individual potentially impacted, complete an online survey,” a DHEC spokeswoman said in an email Friday. “Six patrons provided samples for testing, and each tested positive for norovirus.”

Amber Widener told WCSC she was “violently ill for about 12 hours,” the station reported.

“Just vomiting, over and over again, literally like every hour on the hour,” Widener told WCSC. ”It would relent for a little bit and then it would come back on, and it was horrible.”

Norovirus can spread by consuming contaminated food or drink, touching surfaces that contain the virus or having contact with someone who has the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, the CDC reports.

The restaurant had closed Dec. 5 after people became sick and reopened two weeks later, WCSC reports.

DHEC inspected the Summerville location Dec. 5 and graded the restaurant at 90 percent, according to a department report. Comments in the report indicate a temperature violation related to refried beans in a walk-in cooler.

In a Dec. 14 inspection, the restaurant earned a 100 percent score, a DHEC report indicates.

DHEC in its email said 332 people filled out an online survey, and 290 of those reported becoming sick after eating at La Carreta. The department said more than 280 complaints were submitted, and each one could involve several people.

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