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Salmonella Investigation Closes Cafe Med, Back Bay Sandwich

BOSTON (CBS) -- Two Boston restaurants have been closed after the city's health inspectional department said eight people were sickened with salmonella at both locations.

cafe med inspectional services salmonella
Cafe Med on Saint James Avenue, closed due to salmonella. (WBZ-TV)

The Boston Inspectional Services Department said they temporarily suspended the health permits of Cafe Med and Back Bay Sandwich, both on Saint James Avenue, after finding a total of eight confirmed salmonella cases between the two restaurants.

"ISD and the Boston Public Health Commission are working with Cafe Med and Backbay Sandwich to ensure compliance of all applicable codes," the department said in a statement Thursday.

cafe med inspectional services salmonella
A sign on the door of Cafe Med says the restaurant was closed by Inspectional Services. (WBZ-TV)

The department said the two restaurants had shown a pattern of failed health inspections and food-borne illness.

Back Bay Sandwich has received violation notices on several occasions since it opened in 2011. Cafe Med has also been cited on several occasions since it opened in 2014.

Still, last week, inspectors found things like refrigerators with no thermometers, raw food stored with food ready to eat, multiple food items with no covers, and employees not washing hands.

A note on the door of Back Bay Sandwich said they were told two of the eight diners ate there over a 72-hour period, which required the health department to investigate.

"We strongly support the health department's process," the note read. "We just wish it didn't take so long."

In an email to WBZ-TV, the owner of Back Bay Sandwich said, "We are a popular, busy, very clean establishment with hard working employees."

He added that he was overwhelmed by the support from customers and the investigation only means that the sick diners ate there in a 72 hour period.

Boston Inspectional Services Deputy Commissioner John Meaney explained that they look at all of the places those that got sick ate.

"They can be in the city, outside the city, find the common denominator," Meaney said.

On Cafe Med's front door, a note was posted saying that the restaurant was working "very closely" with inspectors, and that they hoped to reopen soon.

"We understand how necessary this is & for the safety of the general public, we need to be as vigilant as possible with our food & safety guidelines," the note read.

Inspectional Services Chief William Christopher says the restaurants won't reopen until they have been sanitized, professional food managers are hired, and employees are trained in sanitary procedures.

The Boston Public Health Commission on Thursday began testing employees at both the restaurants to try to find the source of the salmonella outbreak. They said the testing takes a few days.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports

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