County concludes food poisoning investigation

The Cameron County Health Department has concluded a month-long investigation into a mass food poisoning event at El Rey del Taco that left more than 30 people sickened.

The culprit? Bistek tacos.

“We received reports of 33 people who were seen at local emergency rooms and that prompted an epidemiological investigation which consisted of interviews with those affected, review of medical records and food sample testing,” said Dr. James W. Castillo II, of the Cameron County Health Authority. “The majority of individuals reported experiencing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea within hours of their meal.”

Four police reports first obtained by The Brownsville Herald revealed that 32 people contacted the Brownsville Police Department after suffering from vomiting and diarrhea after eating at El Rey del Taco between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 30, with 29 of those people reporting that they ate bistek tacos.

Those police reports indicated that just before 11 p.m. on Jan. 30 people began showing up at Valley Regional Medical Center, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville and Exceptional Emergency Center with symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

“We are confident that this is not an ongoing threat to public health as the necessary measures have been taken to resolve the situation,” Castillo said. “We will continue working with the health care providers and municipalities to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents.”

Since the Jan. 30 food poisoning incident, two lawsuits have been filed against the eatery.

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