On February 6, 2006 the Cuyahoga County Board of Health was contacted by a husband and wife who had eaten at Corky and Lenny’s, a restaurant located in Woodmere, Ohio. Shortly after their meal the couple became ill with salmonellosis. That same day, the CCBH learned that the Ohio Department of Health was investigating a report of another individual with Salmonella Group D who also had eaten at Corky and Lenny’s.

The CCBH immediately initiated an epidemiological and environmental investigation in response to the reported illnesses. The owners of Corky and Lenny’s closed the restaurant on February 10 until the reason for the outbreak could be identified.

Forty-eight confirmed cases and 64 probable cases of salmonellosis were epidemiologically linked to Corky and Lenny’s from January 21, 2006 to February 18, 2006. The total includes a confirmed case, a server at the restaurant, who had multiple food exposures at the restaurant from February 18 to February 21.

During the inspection on February 7, health department investigators reviewed food preparation processes and collected various food samples for laboratory analysis. Investigators found several serious food safety errors at the restaurant. The temperature inside a reach-in cooler was 50oF and food held in the cooler was 45oF. Ohio food law requires that food be cold held at a minimum of 41oF. Investigators also found that the dishwasher was not hot enough to properly sanitize dishes. Other errors noted included improper storage of raw potentially hazardous foods and employees were observed eating and drinking while preparing food.

In additon, oil used by prep cooks to roll "raw" matzo balls had the potential to become contaminated from the shell eggs used in the "raw" matzo balls. It was common practice to save any leftover oil at room temperature for preparation of more matzo balls or to pour directly onto cooked chopped liver to keep it moist.

The oil sample tested positive for Salmonella enteriditis at the ODH.

To reduce the risk of another foodborne illness outbreak from occurring at Corky and Lenny’s, the CCBH recommended that restaurant employees be properly trained in food handling procedures including disease prevention and hand washing, that the restaurant implement a comprehensive Quality Assurance program, that food preparation procedures be reviewed to identify and eliminate all sources of potential cross-contamination, and that the restaurant should stop using the matzo ball oil in cooked chopped liver.