Food

Fig & Olive’s West Hollywood Location Linked to Salmonella (UPDATED)

The upscale chain is implicated in a second outbreak following DC.
Fig & Olive in CityCenterDC reopened last week after reports of a salmonella outbreak. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

The trouble isn’t over for Fig & Olive, an upscale Mediterranean chain whose recently-opened DC location has been linked to 160 cases of salmonella poisoning. The L.A. Times reports that the West Hollywood branch may have sickened a dozen people, including employees.

Fig & Olive in CityCenterDC closed for six days following reports of sickened guests, and reopened last week after being cleared by the DC Department of Health. The Food Poisoning Bulletin reports that two items were removed from the DC menu: truffle fries and mushroom croquettes. Though the source of the outbreak has yet to be determined, dishes containing truffle oil have been eliminated at both the Washington and California locations. One woman who’s filing a lawsuit against the company after becoming ill consumed truffle mushroom risotto, according to the Washington Post.

We’ve reached out to Fig & Olive representatives, as well as the D.C. Department of Health, and will update accordingly.

UPDATE: Fig & Olive sent the following statement regarding the current status of the DC and Los Angeles locations.

“Fig & Olive’s Washington D.C. City Center and Melrose Place locations are both open and doing business as usual. Our City Center location was inspected and declared safe by the Health Department there 10 days ago and has had no further incidents. About 8 days ago, we voluntarily closed our Hollywood location for a brief time after some diners and employees reported they had become sickened. We immediately hired a third party food safety firm and worked with the Public Health Department in Los Angeles to address the situation and, after taking steps to ensure that all food preparation and safety standards were being followed, that the food stocks were safe and that all employees had been screened, reopened the same day with the Health Department’s approval. We are confident we have adequately addressed the situations. We remain committed to delivering the highest quality food and excellence of preparation and service that have become the hallmark of the Fig & Olive brand.”

The CityCenterDC branch is also offering free dessert with the purchase of lunch or dinner, so there’s that.

UPDATE (4:20 pm): The DC Department of Health reached out with the following statement regarding salmonella cases linked to Fig & Olive in CityCenterDC. As of now 14 cases of salmonella have been officially connected to the restaurant.

As of Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the DC Department of Health has confirmed 14 cases of salmonella tied back to the Fig and Olive establishment. Interviews of those who reported illnesses are ongoing, to date, DOH has interviewed 135 persons. We continue to encourage individuals who ate at the restaurant since August 21, 2015 and reported food related illnesses to contact DOH at 202-442-9150. As of Wednesday, September 23, 2015, DOH has visited the establishment twice since restoring the license (Wednesday September 16, 2015 and Friday September 18, 2015). During these visits, DOH monitored employee trainings and employee food handling procedures to ensure they are in compliance with the District’s Food Code Regulations and approved Risk Control Plan submitted by Fig and Olive on Monday September 14, 2015 to ensure they address all violations cited on previous inspections.”

UPDATE (6:00 pm): The Center for Disease Control has launched a multi-state investigation tied to Fig & Olive, as reports of salmonella linked to the chain have been filed in numerous locations. The source of the outbreak is still unknown, though truffle oil has been removed from the menu. The DC Department of Health and Department of Forensic Sciences sent the following joint statement to Washingtonian.

The DC Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) are in close collaboration, continuing the surveillance, testing and reporting of food samples from the DC Fig and Olive food establishment. To date, DFS has tested 45 food samples and 15 environmental samples that have yielded negative Salmonella isolates; ten food samples are pending. To date, DFS has confirmed and reported that eleven human specimens, from DC hospitals, have yielded positive results for Salmonella Enteritidis and their DNA typing’s have been shared with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and have been linked to this outbreak.

Several other states with Fig and Olive restaurants are reporting Salmonella cases. At this time, the CDC has confirmed that this is now a multiple state investigation tied to Fig and Olive food establishments and is working closely with each jurisdiction to assess the cases, analyze test results and identify possible trends or correlations. All inquiries regarding this national investigation should be directed to the CDC.

As of Wednesday, September 23, 2015, DOH has confirmed 14 cases of salmonella tied back to the DC Fig and Olive establishment. Interviews of those who reported illnesses are ongoing, to date, DOH has interviewed 135 persons.

Since restoring Fig and Olive’s food license, DOH has visited the establishment twice (Wednesday September 16, 2015 and Friday September 18, 2015). During these visits, DOH monitored employee trainings and employee food handling procedures to ensure they are in compliance with both the District’s Food Code Regulations and the approved Risk Control Plan, which was submitted by Fig and Olive on Monday September 14, 2015.

We continue to encourage individuals who ate at the restaurant since August 21, 2015 and reported food related illnesses to contact DOH at 202-442-9150.”

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.