Conditions Set For Country Cottage To Reopen

Thursday, November 20th 2008, 4:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

LOCUST GROVE, OK -- The Country Cottage is about to re-open.  The Mayes County restaurant has been closed since late August when the first of more than 300 people became sick with a rare form of E. coli.  So why now and what precautions are in place?

The exact date of the re-opening remains a mystery, but when the doors do open to the public, the health department says there are measures in place to protect customers.

For 87 days, the doors at the Country Cottage have been closed.  The popular Mayes County restaurant was the center of the largest E.coli outbreak of its kind in U.S. history.  A 26 year-old man died and 341 people, including 56 children, were sickened by a rare form of the bacteria.  Lexy Morton is one of the children, her mother says she's doing better now and only has to visit the doctor once a month, but adds her health in the future is uncertain.

The future for the Country Cottage, however, is beginning to take shape.

The Oklahoma Department of Health says the restaurant has been cleared to re-open after owners, Ken and Linda Moore, agreed to 11 specific conditions.

Those include, disconnecting a private well on the property that had been found to have bacteria, although the health department says the well was not connected to the outbreak.  The restaurant must prevent any employees who have a diarrheal illness from working.      

A monitoring system must be installed to make sure employees who use the restroom properly wash their hands.

And all employees must complete a food handler's class to be held at the restaurant within 30 days after it re-opens.

The health department says the restaurant has already met these conditions.

Health investigators have still not found the source of the outbreak, calling it a needle in a haystack, but they believe it came after several foods became contaminated.

The Moore's released a statement through a spokeswoman saying they appreciate the support of the community and continue to pray for those who became sick.

It's not known when they will be back in business.

Related Story:

11/19/2008  Restaurant To Reopen After E. Coli Probe