May 16, 2006
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. ó A consultant who helps restaurants address food safety issues has sued the Columbus, Ohio-based company that owns Bravo Cucina Italiana.

Pattie McNiel, who coordinates Michigan State University’s food safety program and who also runs her own consulting business, filed the suit Monday. She says she became ill after eating a carryout salad from the restaurant May 7.

McNiel said she decided to sue because she told a Bravo manager two months ago about several violations she had witnessed while eating there and doesn’t believe he followed up on her recommendations.

At least 360 people have reported becoming ill after eating at the restaurant, Ingham County health department officials said. The department suspects a norovirus caused the illnesses, the Lansing State Journal reported Tuesday on its Web site. Tests on specimens taken from sick customers were being conducted.

Three restaurant patrons have been hospitalized with dehydration, director Dr.

Dean Sienko said, and the outbreak appears to have spread to three states.

Pam Ritz, spokeswoman for Bravo Development Inc. said the company also suspects a norovirus. Bravo patrons have reported becoming sick between May 3 and May 11. They have complained of vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and other symptoms.

Norovirus is a family of common viruses that can cause intestinal distress that typically lasts for 24 to 48 hours, and in some cases can be fatal. The same illness afflicted more than 400 patrons in January at a Carrabba’s Italian Grill just west of Lansing.

The Bravo restaurant, which voluntarily shut down May 11, has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, Ritz said. It’s expected to reopen this week.