Following up on an anonymous tip, Anne Arundel County health authorities Wednesday carried out a surprise inspection of the Fuddrucker's restaurant, 175 Jennifer Road in Annapolis. They discovered what appeared to be rat poison pellets on trays of raw hamburger patties in a walk-in refrigerator.
The restaurant, opposite the Annapolis Mall, was ordered closed immediately while restaurant personnel destroyed the tainted food and cleaned the premises and anything that was in contact with the suspected poison. It re-opened on Thursday.
Health officials reported the incident to Anne Arundel County police. "The pellets would not have appeared on their own without a person putting them there," said Elin Jones, a spokeswoman for the county Health Department.
After the tipster's report, she said, the green pellets were found quickly. "It was in the refrigerator area, so it was not difficult for the inspectors to find," she said.
County police spokesman Lt. James Fredericks confirmed there is an open investigation, but so far no suspects. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call county police.
A spokeswoman for the company could not be reached for comment.
Rodenticide ingestion in small doses should pose little risk to human health, said Dr. Kelly Russo, deputy health officer with the county health department.
"Rat poison in the U.S. is usually a long-acting … blood thinner, so usually the small amounts in the little pellets in rodenticide is not enough to cause any medical problems," she said. Large doses, or smaller ones over an extended period of time, could lead to easy bleeding and bruising.
People who became ill after eating at the Jennifer Road Fuddruckers should consult their primary care physicians or the Maryland Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, Jones said.
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