About Salmonella

From the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks.


Chili's Salmonella Outbreak

According to the Lake County Health Department’s final report on a Salmonella outbreak traced to a Chili's restaurant in 2002, 305 were sickened as a result of eating food from the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant. Of those, 141 customers and 28 employees had tested positive for the Salmonella bacteria, while 105 other infected individuals met the LCHD’s definition of a probable case.

In its report, the health department stated its “investigation revealed environmental factors such as a loss of hot water, loss of all water, the large number of ill employees at the facility, a general lack of handwashing and dishmachine sanitizer failure that may have caused fecal/oral contamination of multiple food items, and contributed to the spread of Salmonella javiana.”

The LCHD scheduled a hearing to discuss Chili’s management’s failure to cease operations during periods where no hot water, or no water at all, was available, failure to adequately monitor their employees’ health, and the steps management had implemented to prevent future outbreaks. Following the hearing, Executive Director Dale Galassie stated that Chili’s had violated local ordinances by remaining open and serving customers while without available water.

Although LCHD decided not to pursue punitive measures against Chili’s and its management, the department sent a letter to Chili’s corporate parent requesting reimbursement of outbreak-related investigation costs, including testing and training of staff, in the total amount of $32,500. Mr. Galassie stated, “These were extraordinary circumstances. There were excessive costs in dealing with [the outbreak] and therefore we are requesting reimbursement. The good news is that it prevented a secondary outbreak as a result of cooperation of the Chili’s corporation, local media, and ourselves, but it doesn’t excuse poor local management decisions made that caused it.”

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