More Than A Dozen Cases Of E. Coli Linked To San Diego Restaurant

October 24, 2023

More than a dozen cases of E. coli food poisoning have been linked to a Miguel's Cocina location in San Diego.

Miguel’s Cocina restaurant in San Diego's 4S Ranch voluntarily closed its doors today after the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency found 13 "confirmed or probable" cases of Shiga-toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) linked to the restaurant over the past several weeks. It is reported seven customers were hospitalized after falling ill after dining at the restaurant. The ages of those infected range from 6 years old to 87 years old, according to officials.

Of the seven hospitalized, the most serious case is a 14-year-old boy, who is currently fighting for his life at Rady Children's Hospital. He and his family dined at Miguel's on October 14, where he ate carne asada, and two days later he complained of a headache. The next day he came down with a fever, followed by excruciating diarrhea, and now he is on dialysis.

"The ill persons or their families reported eating at the Miquel’s 4S Ranch location from Oct. 6 to Oct. 18 and had symptoms from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19," said an official from San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. "Seven cases were hospitalized with at least one case developing the more severe complication of the infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome. "
The specific food items from the restaurant that were sources of the  E. coli  bacteria are still under investigation.  Miguels 4S Ranch remains closed until further notice.

"People who visited the restaurant and are feeling ill should see their doctor as soon as possible," said County public health officer Wilma J. Wooten, M.D. "We want them to get tested and have the results sent to the local health department. Those most at risk from infection are children, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems."

County Environmental Health inspectors visited Miguel's 4S location, yesterday afternoon, October 23, because some cases diagnosed with STEC reported Miquel's among their possible exposure locations. During that inspection, there were no operational major risk factors for food-borne illness identified.

Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms vary from person-to-person and often include severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting symptoms may occur with or without a fever.

Miguel's Cocina is part of the Brigantine Restaurant Group, which got its start in San Diego in 1969 when Mike Morton Sr. and family opened the first location of the surf & turf centric Brigantine restaurant on Shelter Island (in the space where a Miguel's is now). Brigantine Incorporated now employs more than 1,200 San Diegans and operates more than 15 restaurants in San Diego County, including Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar locations, Miguel’s Cocina, Ketch Brewing, and Top Sail restaurant.

Brigantine Restaurants continues to work closely with the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health as the investigation continues. In response to this incident, Miguel’s 4S Ranch is conducting a deep cleaning of the entire facility and disposing of all ingredients on premise that could potentially be known to harbor E. Coli.

"We take this incident very seriously because the safety of our food and the well being of our guests is our highest priority," said Mike Morton, Jr., President and CEO of The Brigantine Restaurants. "We are working hand in hand with the DEH to find any potential source of E. Coli at our facility or somewhere in our supply chain. We offer our sincerest sympathies to those who have been affected and we pray for their full recovery. We’ll continue to work with the DEH on identifying any potential source of infection and we will defer to their guidance on reopening the 4S Ranch location."