The Chicken & Rice Guys has closed its four restaurants and parked its food trucks after a week that ended with 14 of its “halal grub” customers being infected with E. coli O157:H7, and sending ten to Boston area hospitals.
The temporary shutdown also came with a Facebook Live video apology from Chicken & Rice CEO Ian So. “First and foremost, I am really sorry to everyone that got sick,” So said. “If you know our team and dedication..it hurts a lot. Obviously we can do a better job.”
The Chicken & Rice restaurants have passed health inspections, but have opted to remain closed while the E. coli outbreak is “sorted out.” So said the chain is bringing on an outside food safety consultant and plan to “deep clean” its four locations and its fleet of food trucks before resuming operations.
The Chicken & Rice Guys began as a food truck business in 2012. It has since grown to include five food trucks and four brick and mortar locations —two in Boston and one each in Allston and Medford.
The contamination is believed to have occurred sometime between March 27 and March 30 at either the restaurant in Allston or from one of the food trucks. At least half the cases have a connection to Allston
The Department of Public Health has been investigating since Tuesday in response to a consumer complaint to the city. By week’s end, it still was not known how pathogen was actually transmitted. Both contaminated product and a sick employee remained as possibilities.
Local health departments in Boston, Medford, and Somerville were drawn into the investigation by week’s end along with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.