Restaurant is closed for decontamination


March 10, 2007|By Gina Davis

A Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in eastern Baltimore County, where members of a family say they dined before becoming ill last weekend, will remain closed until it has hired a certified food handler and completed decontamination, county inspectors said yesterday.

"They're now in a position where they're having to go through a complete cleaning process and sanitize everything from chairs to play equipment," said David A.C. Carroll, head of the county's Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management.

The restaurant also must be reinspected before it will be allowed to reopen, Carroll said.

A spokeswoman for the restaurant's parent corporation, CEC Entertainment Inc., said in a statement yesterday that the company is working with local health officials.

"We take a great deal of pride in the quality of our food product and take food-borne illness allegations seriously," said spokeswoman Brenda Holloway. "We are cooperating fully with the health department in their investigation and following all of their disinfecting procedures."

County restaurant inspectors ordered the facility closed Thursday after responding to a report that three children and a woman were hospitalized Sunday after dining at the restaurant in the 8300 block of Eastern Ave., Carroll said.

During their visit, inspectors found that the restaurant didn't have a certified food handler - a worker trained in safe food preparation techniques, Carroll said.

While inspectors were at the restaurant, an employee reported having recently had diarrhea, Carroll said. Inspectors found that the employee - a food preparation worker - had a 2-year-old in the kitchen, who also was experiencing diarrhea. The child's presence was a health violation, Carroll said.

Dr. Pierre N. Vigilance, director and health officer of the county health department, said inspectors are interviewing more than 40 people, including 20 employees, to determine whether any of them had illnesses, such as gastroenteritis, and might have contaminated the restaurant.

Vigilance said yesterday that inspectors haven't determined whether there is a connection between the employee who reported symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness and the family members who became ill.

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