Concord deli reopens after norovirus outbreak

January 31, 2013 6:52:22 PM PST
A family-owned deli is back in business after being forced to shut down by the health department. The issue at North Park Deli in Concord wasn't food poisoning, but norovirus that struck employees there.

"There's nothing I could have done to change anything," said Johnny Kim.

Kim and his family have owned and operated North Park Deli for more than a decade. Last week, two of his workers came to work sick. Kim would later learn those two employees tested positive for a virus no one wants to see on the menu -- the norovirus

"The worst thing about it was nobody showed symptoms. You can be a carrier without showing symptoms apparently. Now I've learned," said Kim.

He learned because the sandwich shop, extremely popular with a loyal lunch crowd , was forced to shut its doors after county health officials learned 15 people at an event catered by North Park Deli, got sick over the weekend. Health officials shut him down late Tuesday and by early Thursday, he was up and running again.

"Basically, all I did was clean. Every surface in this restaurant has been touched. We went over every single inch of it," said Kim.

Norovirus usually hits people during the winter months and it's sometimes called the "stomach flu," but it has no relation to Influenza. Norovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal illness and according to health officials, the only way to fight the spread of the virus, is by washing your hands.

"By state law actually, you cannot do food preparation when you're sick," said Dr. Marilyn Underwood, the environmental health director for Contra Costa County.

According to Underwood, allowing workers to work around food who aren't healthy isn't only unsafe, it's against the law.

"Something like this really bad happened to a lot of people that got sick and would not have had to get sick if that was not done," said Underwood.

Thursday morning, officials gave North Park Deli a clean bill of health, making Kim and his regulars very happy.


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