Windmill Winery in Florence, Arizona, exceeded its legally allowable level of food preparation and used a non-permitted caterer for a wedding and one other event last month, resulting in an outbreak of Salmonella food poisoning. The latest update on the outbreak from the Pinal County Public Health Services District indicates that 38 people were sickened and at least four were hospitalized. A young child was among those who required hospital care.
Foodborne illness lawyer Fred Pritzker says the Windmill Winery's health code violations -- which prompted the county to suspend food operations at the winery -- will be considered aggravating factors in any Windmill Winery Salmonella lawsuit that results from the outbreak. "We are talking about unsanctioned food practices of a pretty significant scale,'' Pritzker said. "It's eggregious that there was such disregard for food safety. People who trusted the winery paid the price.''
The outbreak was announced by Pinal County health authorities on April 3, followed by subsequent disclosures that Salmonella poisoning occurred during a private wedding on March 19 and an unrelated event the day before. The county temporarily suspended the food establishment permit of the Windmill Winery in Florence, then reinstated it under special conditions.
“All are serious violations of the Pinal County Environmental Health Code and Arizona state statute,” said PHPSD Director Tom Schryer. The county said it is working with Arizona state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak. But Pritzker said an exact cause is not required for victims to proceed with claims for compensation or courtroom litigation.
A report in Food Poisoning Bulletin said the caterer hired by the winery is known as Kiss the Chef Catering.