Western Sizzlin’ Restaurant Salmonella Outbreak LawsuitsIn 2002, a large Salmonella outbreak in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, was traced to the consumption of food at the Western Sizzlin’ restaurant. The Salmonella outbreak resulted in 369 reported illnesses; 39 were confirmed by laboratory testing.
Environmental Health (EH) personnel from the Mitchell County Health Department (MCHD) inspected the restaurant, noting deficiencies. The EH team also collected food samples for testing. Hamburger steak with gravy, fried chicken, and ham all tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg.
Two asymptomatic employees of the restaurant were found to be infected with Salmonella; however, both individuals had eaten food prepared at the restaurant and it could not be determined whether they were infected after eating at the restaurant or one or both of them was the source of the outbreak.
The Marler Clark law firm filed 35 lawsuits against Western Sizzlin’ on behalf of individuals who became ill with Salmonella after eating at the restaurant. The lawsuits were resolved out of court in 2003.