Is this Pars Cove Persian Cuisines first and last year at the Taste of Chicago?
2 ill after Taste sue restaurant
More than 500 say they had salmonella
By Karoun Demirjian and Michael Higgins, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporter Gary Washburn contributed to this report
Published July 17, 2007
Two of the several hundred people who say they became ill after eating hummus at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth at Taste of Chicago have decided to take the matter to court.
Monique Roach, 49, and Willie Smith, 43, both from Chicago's Morgan Park neighborhood, filed what appears to be the first lawsuit against Pars Cove on Monday, alleging that the restaurant failed to properly inspect, store or package the food, or made some other mistake that caused the pair to become sick. They are seeking more than $30,000 in damages for Roach, and an unspecified lesser amount for Smith, said their attorney, Adrian Mazar of Chicago.
Roach, a mail carrier, said Monday that she and Smith visited the festival June 29 and that she began to feel sick the following day.
At first, she thought it was just the flu, Roach said. But she said the vomiting, diarrhea and fever grew worse over the next three days and, on July 3, Roach's family doctor sent her to the hospital.
"Having my kids wasn't as bad as the pain and distress that my body was going through those five days," Roach said. "Truly, I thought I was dying."
Roach said doctors at St. Francis Hospital & Health Center in Blue Island confirmed she had salmonella poisoning. She is taking antibiotics but has not yet returned to work, Roach said.
Smith also got sick but didn't seek medical attention, Mazar said.
Pars Cove co-owner Mike Bambouyani said Monday that he sympathized with anyone who was ill, but he thinks it's too soon for lawsuits to be filed.
"The finger is pointed our way. ... But there's been nothing confirmed," Bambouyani said. "We're working with the health department, and we want to get to the bottom of it."
As of noon Monday, 529 people told the city they had been infected with salmonella at Taste of Chicago, with about 50 of those cases confirmed in laboratory tests and 36 identified as Salmonella heidelberg, a common strain, city health department officials said. Seventeen people have been hospitalized with varying symptoms, including diarrhea, dehydration and fever.
City Health Department investigators have determined that at least one -- and perhaps the only -- source of the bacterial poisoning was a dish of herbs, tomato, and cucumber known as hummus shirazi, and they ordered Pars Cove to stop serving hummus while the investigation proceeds.
Health Department officials said the restaurant's owners have been extremely cooperative throughout their investigation, and they cautioned Chicagoans from becoming overly alarmed by the growing number of people who say they were sickened.
"What we saw with the increasing numbers was not an expansion of the outbreak, it was an expansion of awareness of the outbreak...and responses to the outreach that we conducted," said Health Department spokesman Tim Hadac, who said the volume of calls was tapering off.
On Monday, Mayor Richard Daley joined Health Department officials in expressing his confidence in the city's oversight of vendors at Taste of Chicago.
He called the outbreak "an unfortunate incident dealing with the health and safety of people" and asserted the festival's reputation has not been damaged and that future attendance will not be affected.
"People will attend next year," he said. "The people like it. They have great music. This is a great event. It would be like closing down the city because of one incident."----------email@example.com
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune
Labels: Taste of Chicago