LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — An unusual and rare situation. That’s how local food safety experts are responding to reports. A tainted ingredient is likely the cause of dozens of people getting sick after eating at Secret of Siam last month.
“This is the first time that I’ve…I literally watched this experience in the news and myself, I’ve never had any of those issues," said Patrick Fogerty, the head of “The Food Safety Instructors”.
Fogerty has inspected thousands of restaurants in his career. He has never seen a case like Secret of Siam.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police investigators are focusing on a tainted ingredient: curry powder.
In an officer’s report, investigators wrote on February 17, “a plastic tub containing an orange solid substance with red and white substances throughout,” tested positive for THC.
This was one of the dozens of items taken from the restaurant and on March 6, investigators say all of the other sealed products tested negative for controlled substances. Fogerty says questions should now focus on the source of the curry powder.
“Wherever they purchase their ingredients from, had to have been an unapproved supplier because the health department would not have allowed that type of ingredient to enter the food chain,” he said.
Fogerty says it’s rare to hear of tainted ingredients because of strict regulations from the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, for restaurant suppliers. When it comes to the restaurants themselves, owners are required to disclose their suppliers in order to get their permits.
“You literally have to go to a reputable supplier to purchase your stuff," Fogerty said. "If you don’t, you’re literally risking your restaurant."
He says these regulations are meant for quality and safety control.
“It’s just like having a fisherman going to Lake Mead and catch the fish and sell it in a restaurant," Fogerty said. "That’s absolutely illegal. They’re not allowed to do stuff like that."
Fogerty says most cases of tainted food come from improper handling or hand washing resulting in food-borne illnesses.
LVMPD decided not to file any criminal charges. The Southern Nevada health district is still looking into the matter and has given the restaurant the green light to reopen.