Durban - An outbreak of salmonella food poisoning at an award-winning uMhlanga restaurant has left more than 11 people in hospital.
Disgruntled patrons took to social media yesterday, claiming they became violently ill after eating at Old Town Italy at the weekend.
The owner of the popular eatery, Renzo Scribante, confirmed last night he had been told that at least 11 people had landed in hospital since Monday.
He said they suspected the source of the outbreak was from the restaurant’s famous hollandaise sauce, which is traditionally made with raw eggs.
In a statement on Facebook yesterday, he said: “Over the last three days we have received reports of people who had fallen ill after eating breakfast at the restaurant.
“We took immediate action after being contacted by the first individual. We have been in contact with all families and the Department of Health to get to the bottom of the issue.”
Immediate precautionary measures at the restaurant included stopping the in-house production of the hollandaise sauce and having it replaced with a pre-manufactured variant.
“We have quarantined all bacon and egg products and changed to an alternative supplier immediately.”
He said they had also informed suppliers about the outbreak and requested tests on products.
In addition, the restaurant had conducted multiple tests with independent laboratories, Scribante said, and he was awaiting results.
He said there had been no new cases reported since the precautionary measures were implemented.
He added that the restaurant’s doors remained opened for business.
The father of one of the patrons hospitalised said he was considering legal action against the eatery for not shutting its doors.
“We love Old Town Italy and eat there almost every weekend. My eldest son had the breakfast on Sunday that had the hollandaise sauce in it. We all ate the same lunch and dinner but he was the only one who fell ill,” he said.
Speaking from his son’s hospital bedside, the man, who did not want to be named, said his son began vomiting violently at around 3am on Monday and developed a severe fever and stomach cramps. He said he rushed his son to casualty at uMhlanga Private Hospital due to vomiting and diarrhoea.
“My son has been in hospital since Monday and the doctor said he does not know when he will be discharged. He has diarrhoea and has lost weight.”
Several Facebook posts called for the restaurant to be shut down.
A post by Patrick Franco received 52 shares and more than 120 comments, mostly by people claiming they had taken ill. In his post, Franco said he made calls and sent messages to Old Town Italy and was told it was “well aware of the situation that has been going on for months”.
“They claim to have done tests and changed the recipe for the sauce, but each day there are more and more people arriving at hospital with the same symptoms from the same source, Old Town Italy, uMhlanga. Time to close the doors? Customers’ health should be on top of your priorities, not fattening your pockets,” Franco posted.
Another upset foodie, Michelle Currie, said her family and others she knew had taken ill.
“I hope your doors have been closed until you have found out what has been contaminated. Please be careful everyone of going to Old Town until they know what is infected.”