Imported turkeys blamed for 35 falling sick in Hong Kong after Thanksgiving meal at Dan Ryan’s

US-style diner says it will cover medical costs and refund affected customers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 9:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 December, 2016, 6:22pm

Bacteria that survived the cooking process in a batch of turkeys served up for Thanksgiving dinner is suspected to have caused 35 customers at a Dan Ryan’s restaurant to fall ill, the American-style diner’s owner announced.

The restaurant said it was cooperating with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and stressed it was an “individual” isolated incident. Dan Ryan’s said it would cover medical costs, refund meals and offer other unspecified support.

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The Centre for Health Protection announced on Monday that 12 diners had initially been taken ill after eating at the Harbour City outlet of Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill in Tsim Sha Tsui on November 24. Then on Wednesday night it emerged that another 19 people had reported feeling unwell. A salmonella outbreak is suspected.

A total of 35 people from nine clusters who had dined at the outlet on the same night had now reported feeling sick, the centre said.

The diners developed symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea within about six to 69 hours. The foods eaten included imported American turkeys, vegetables, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

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“We are devastated that some of our guests got sick as a result of eating our one day Thanksgiving turkey dinner served at one our Dan Ryan’s locations; an imported product from the USA that we no longer serve. I am speaking directly with each family that was affected, and we are cooperating fully with the Health Department,” Merritt Croker, chief executive of Dan Ryan’s parent Windy City, said.

A letter posted on Dan Ryan’s website said: “Over the 25 year history at this one Dan Ryan’s we have served millions of guests, and have never had a food incident that resulted in the sickness of multiple guests. All of us in the Dan Ryan’s family are heart-broken that this happened, we have reached out to take care of the guests that were affected, and will redouble our efforts to ensure such an event never happens again.”

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Twenty-eight people sought medical assistance, six of whom were hospitalised. Four people remained in hospital on Wednesday. All those affected were said to be in a stable condition.

Stool specimens from three patients tested positive for group D salmonella.

The centre said no additional cases had been reported after control measures were implemented by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at the restaurant.

The Dan Ryan’s branch in Tsim Sha Tsui was open for business on Thursday, staff confirmed.

The CEO’s letter in full:

On November 24, 2016 at Dan Ryan’s, Ocean Terminal in TST, hundreds of guests were served and over 150 guests availed of a special one day menu offered exclusively for Thanksgiving. The menu included imported U.S. turkey, apple pie and pumpkin pie which are traditionally served on the Thanksgiving holiday throughout the USA. Over the days that followed, we received calls that some who ate the turkey set meal and reported feeling ill. The vast majority of guests who ate the turkey set meal did not have any problems, and no one who ate any of the other meals reported any issues. For those guests who have symptoms, and of those who ate the turkey set meal, a few guests sought medical advice of a medical doctor, or went to hospital. There were nine parties or families affected totaling approximately 35 people. The one day set meal was discontinued on the same day and is no longer served.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) were notified by any hospital that received a guest for treatment who became sick after eating this meal, and dispatched an officer the next day to meet with our management. Dan Ryan’s is fully cooperating and assisting the FEHD and their investigation in every possible way. The management and staff of Dan Ryan’s consulted with the FEHD to determine the reason for the sickness. The meal and all ingredients were ceased to be used or served. They also did an inspection of our kitchens and found them to be compliant with Hong Kong health regulations, which has been the case for over 25 years. They interviewed the staff who prepared the food, and reviewed hygiene managers certifications and restaurant licenses, and all was found to be in order. The FEHD took swab samples from various surfaces where the food was prepared for further testing.

Senior management of Dan Ryan’s have conducted their own investigation of the products used in the turkey set meal. Though we may never be sure, we believe that it was a bacteria that caused the sickness of some guests that survived through the baking process of 2-3 turkeys of the many that were imported from the U.S. This lead to the symptoms described above. We are following up with the supplier of the product in the U.S., as well as the importer.

Dan Ryan’s and all its restaurants adhere to the highest culinary and food safety standards, and believe this incident is an individual case. The owners and management are terribly troubled that any guest might feel unwell from dining in our restaurants. The company CEO personally called impacted guests and offered the support of the company for related medical costs, reimbursement of their meal, as well as other support. The management and staff consider their guests as family and have reached out as we might to a member of our own family.

Over the 25 year history at this one Dan Ryan’s we have served millions of guests, and have never had a food incident that resulted in the sickness of multiple guests. All of us in the Dan Ryan’s family are heart-broken that this happened, we have reach out to take care of the guests that were affected, and will redouble our efforts to ensure such an event never happens again.

Merritt Croker,

CEO

December 1, 2016