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Chicken & Rice Guys

Outbreak Update

The E. coli outbreak linked to the Chicken & Rice Guys restaurant chain has grown from seven to fourteen confirmed cases, who of which required hospitalization. Since the announcement of the outbreak, the Boston Inspection Service has confirmed that the strain of E. coli related to this outbreak is E. coli O157:H7 – one of the deadliest strains. As a result of the investigation, all Chicken & Rice Guys employees are subject to a mandatory E. coli test by the health agency. The company’s Allston location, the hub of the company’s supplies, is still considered the primary source of the contamination at this time.

Physical Restaurant Locations and Food Truck Fleet Remain Inoperative

According to the report tonight from the Boston Globe, “Boston officials initially said the outbreak could be traced to the restaurant’s Allston outpost, but said Wednesday that some people had become ill after eating at one of the food trucks. They did not identify which truck, or when the exposure took place.”

Meanwhile, all of the company’s brick and mortar stores and its food trucks remain closed. The Boston Globe reports that they “likely will not reopen until at least the middle of next week while health officials search for the cause of the the outbreak.” According to Commissioner William Christopher, Jr., “They [the stores and trucks] will remain closed until we get the tests back from public health investigators,” Christopher said. “This may have come from an outside source and this may not be the businesses’ situation. It could be anything.”

The company contends that the closures of their restaurants and fleet of food trucks were voluntary and in good faith to work with the health agencies. According to the company’s main Facebook page:

“Dear our loyal customers, it has been recently brought to our attention that some of our patrons have not been feeling well after visiting some of our food trucks. Currently, we have not figured out the cause and have decided to voluntarily shutdown affected operations. It is always CNRG's goal to provide the best service and products to our fans and we will not do that until we can.
-CNR Team”

Investigation Pending; Meeting with Company Officials

The health agency confirmed that investigation was commenced after receiving an anonymous tip that people were becoming ill after eating at the restaurant chain. The agency represents that investigations began on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. However, WCVB ABC 5, reports the Boston Inspection Service has been investigating the cases for about a week. Reports have confirmed that multiple agencies are involved in the investigation. Along with the Boston Inspectional Services, the local health agencies in Medford and Somerville have combined their efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also allegedly involved.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Ian So, is trying to be transparent with the public about their involvement in the outbreak. The company released a video and a statement via their Facebook page after its meetings with the health department on April 12, 2017. According to Mr. So’s public statement,

“We've concluded a meeting this morning with the State and City Boards of Health and here are the facts as we know them:

  • The State Department of Health has linked 7 confirmed cases of E. coli to the Chicken & Rice Guys.
  • Reported cases have so far been isolated to our food trucks and Allston restaurant between 3/27 and 4/6.
  • CNR continues to work closely with the State and City Health Departments to find the source of the problem.
  • Yesterday, our food trucks, food truck commissary, and Allston restaurant were inspected including a thorough review of our food handling, cooking, and transportation systems.
  • All inspected sites passed, so the investigation is now focusing on our food suppliers and CNR personnel.
  • Starting yesterday, CNR began the process of testing all of our nearly 100 employees for E. coli.
  • Starting today, CNR will be hiring independent food safety experts as well as an outside cleaning service that specializes in food safety.
  • All CNR operations will be temporarily suspended by the Health Department until at least Monday while we continue to test, work with investigators, and clean.”

The company has also issued public statements through its spokesman, Steven Collicelli. He confirmed that the company closed all of its locations and food trucks upon the health department’s involvement. He further confirmed that a single food truck may be the center of all of the E. coli cases, but he did not know which food truck would be implicated. According to Mr. Collicelli, “First and foremost for us is our customers’ safety and health. The last thing any restaurant wants is to get their customers’ sick.”

Currently, Boston Inspection Service agents will not answer questions about the status of those hospitalized. It is also unknown if any of the hospitalized victims remain admitted. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health deferred all questions about the victims to the city agents. The Boston Globe interviewed a patron who claimed to have become ill after eating at the restaurant chain last week. The article quotes patron Dave Andrews who said he ate at the chain last week and got sick later that night. “I ordered the chicken with lamb and salad,” he said. “It didn’t land very well.”

Where Did Chicken & Rice Guys Get E. coli?

Boston Inspectional Services Commissioner William Christopher, Jr. stated on April 12, 2017 that “food at the facility could have become tainted with E. coli on site, through an employee, or it could have arrived from a vendor already contaminated.” As the investigation progresses, every employee of the company will be tested for E. coli.

E. coli O157:H7 is a Shiga toxin producing bacteria. It is one of the more dangerous foodborne pathogens, and cause severe future problems or even death. The initial symptoms of E. Coli food poisoning are typically expressed within three to four days after the person eats the infected food. However, the latency period can range anywhere from one to nine days before the onset of symptoms, depending on the amount of contamination or the health of the victim. It takes only a very small dose of E. coli cells in the food to cause illness. The bacteria typically causes severe diarrhea, usually bloody, and abdominal pain in in its victims.

In severe cases, E. coli O157 can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a sometimes fatal condition characterized by the sudden onset of gastrointestinal bleeding, anemia from the destruction of red blood cells, low blood platelet count (thrombocytopenia), bloody urine and, in the worst cases, acute kidney failure (uremia).  HUS is the result red blood cells being destroyed in the body. Essentially, the kidney’s filtration system is overwhelmed and blocked by the dead cells.  Approximately 3-5% of people who progress to the stage of HUS die as a result. Those with severe cases that survive may require long-term medical treatment and possibly organ transplants.

If you or someone in your family ate at the Chicken & Rice Guys and you have become ill, it Is recommended you seek immediate medical attention.  The sooner the E. coli food poisoning is detected, the better chance medical providers have of preventing the patient from progressing to the HUS stage and potentially dying.

Robins Cloud LLP is Helping Victims of this Outbreak

Robins Cloud LLP is a Plaintiffs’ firm dedicated to helping those who have become ill from contaminated food or beverages. We will continue to follow and investigate the details of this outbreak. If you or someone in your family has become ill after eating food from Chicken & Rice Guys, Robins Cloud LLP is available to discuss any questions, concerns, and the legal process with you. You can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a free, no obligation consultation.

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