A Federico’s Mexican Food Restaurant in Litchfield Park, Ariz. that was linked to 79 cases of E. coli infection in July has reopened with new cleaning protocols in place and plans for a promotion to allay customers’ concerns about food safety.
On Aug. 1, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health informed Federico’s that it suspected some people had fallen ill from E. coli after eating at its Litchfield Park location. The company closed the restaurant for three days and reopened Aug. 5.
Federico’s said it disposed of all food and conducted “a full re-sanitizing of the restaurant” before reopening it. The company also noted that it had worked with best-selling author and consultant Linda Cobb, known as the “Queen of Clean,” to “enhance its cleaning protocols.”
Owners of Federico’s, which has 20 units in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, said that the Maricopa County Department of Public Health has yet to determine the source of the E. coli O157:H7 infection.
In a statement released Tuesday, the company said, “Federico’s remains deeply concerned” about those affected and “is working hand-in-hand with the county in hopes of identifying the source of the illness.”
Federico’s announced a one-time “Come Back, On Us” promotion, which will offer customers free food on Sept. 16, “as a way of demonstrating that Federico’s Restaurants are safe, clean and home to the some of the best Mexican food in the Valley,” the company said in a press release.
As part of the promotion, guests will be able to visit any Arizona Federico’s for a free breakfast from 8-10 a.m. or an early dinner from 5-7 p.m.
Meanwhile, William Marler, a Seattle-based lawyer who is representing victims of the E. coli outbreak, said, “Although I commend Federico’s for assisting the health department in its E. coli outbreak investigation, and for now hiring the Queen of Clean, those efforts are a bit late for my clients.”
Marler said of those who became ill in the exposure between July 18 and July 30, at least 23 were hospitalized, including two children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli infection that can cause kidney failure. The children required hospitalization, blood transfusions and dialysis, he noted.
On Sept. 30, all Federico’s locations will donate 20 percent of their gross sales to the Arizona chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, the company said.