MN Health Department investigates foodborne illness outbreak at Girvan Grille

Google Maps street view of the Edinburgh USA Golf Course clubhouse containing Girvan Grille
Google Maps street view of the Edinburgh USA Golf Course clubhouse containing Girvan Grille

In 2010, this paper bestowed the title of Best Wings on Girvan Grille, praising the "woodsy, then slightly fruity" and ultimately "blazing" flavor of its ghost pepper sauce. The restaurant has earned another sweat-inducing distinction -- this time as the likely source of a foodborne illness outbreak.

The Minnesota Department of Health is still assessing the damage but says at least 77 people, including members of the Totino Grace High School football team who attended a banquet on December 8, were sickened. The complaints followed meals that were served between December 6 and 10. The symptoms: vomiting and diarrhea.

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The restaurant -- which is located inside the clubhouse of the Edinburgh USA Golf Course in Brooklyn Park -- did not return our messages but is said to be cooperating with authorities. The state health department has put the blame on at least one sick employee who failed to thoroughly wash his hands. It's unclear which dishes were contaminated.

Minnesota ranks among the best places in the country for reporting and investigating foodborne illnesses. The number of outbreaks on record compared to the number of restaurants and meals served is remarkably low. In 2005, there were only 41 confirmed cases involving two or more people.

"It's pretty small when you think about it," said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the MN Department of Health. "Having said that, we also know that the number of outbreaks reported to us is the tip of the iceberg. A lot of people get sick, go to the doctor and just get over it without reporting it."

For proof he pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one out of six people will fall ill from foodborne pathogens every year. (Not all of those incidents, of course, stem from restaurants; FoodNet was set up to monitor trends.)

The news of an outbreak in Brooklyn Park came on the heels of national studies suggesting that the carelessness of many restaurants workers and their employers puts the public at risk.

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]

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