According to records disclosed by Tulare County Health and Human Services, Nielsen’s catering business, "Costa’s Catering," which operates from Nielsen’s restaurant, was the source of at least two Salmonella Typhimurium outbreaks in late July, and meals served at the restaurant itself may have caused several more illnesses.
The other known outbreak occurred at a summer science program that Costa’s catered from July 25-29, 2005. On learning of illness associated with attendance at this program, health officials immediately recognized the apparent link between this outbreak and the recently discovered outbreak at the Lourenco’s family reunion.
A multi-agency investigation commenced immediately after officials noticed the increased incidence of Salmonella cases with an exposure to Nielsen’s or Costa’s food. An inspection occurred at Nielsen’s Restaurant on August 16. The conditions found were less than immaculate. Lupe Tapia, an environmental health specialist, found many code violations, both "major" and "minor." Among the violations were:
- instances of bare-handed contact
- lack of soap at handwashing sinks
- accumulation of food debris, grease from inside and outside surfaces of equipment . . . throughout the facility, especially at food prep area
- accumulation of different types of meat debris on the meat slicer
- lack of thermometer at food prep areas
- used linens stored at food prep area
Further investigation revealed other deficient practices.