Captain’s Galley, the Rowan County restaurant linked to an E. coli outbreak, has been shut down after health officials confirmed that a goat was slaughtered in the restaurant kitchen.
The Rowan County Health Department announced Monday they learned of the slaughter from an anonymous tip by a former employee, which was confirmed by management and ownership.
They’re not saying the slaughter is the exact cause of the E. coli outbreak, which sickened 20 people and killed one woman.
Officials say it happened in the kitchen sometime between May 11 and May 20, after the restaurant was closed for the night.
It is possible that kitchen utensils used to slaughter the goat may have been used later on in other food preparation, but that has not been confirmed.
Wood says the cook staff is Latino. A local goat farmer says they’re a popular food source because one goat can feed a family for a month.
Health officials said eight cases of E. coli, a bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines, have been confirmed and another 12 are probable. Everyone who got sick ate at the restaurant between May 26 and June 3.
News of the slaughter was “very disturbing” to him and the restaurant’s owners, Wood said. “They don’t know if or when the restaurant will reopen,” he said.
On Thursday, 86-year-old Salisbury resident Faye Sides died at Rowan Regional Medical Center of complications related to an infection of a dangerous strain of the bacteria E. coli. She was one of 21 people who got sick after eating at the restaurant, Wood said.
Health officials said they interviewed 26 employees and heard conflicting stories. The goat was slaughtered sometime between May 11 and May 20, Wood said. Restaurant patrons got sick between May 26 and June 3, Wood said Monday.
Several of the employees are Hispanic, Wood said, and health officials used a translator to conduct some interviews.
Health officials cannot prove the outbreak of the intestinal disease was caused by the goat slaughter, Wood said. It will be hard to establish a link without finding part of the goat carcass.
Wood said the restaurant’s owner, John Kazakos, has cooperated during the investigation. Greensboro lawyer David Brown, who represents Kazakos’ company, said employees are still being interviewed to confirm details of what happened. Brown said he believes two or three employees were involved.
Brown said he was told the goat wasn’t killed “for some religious or cultural reason, but simply a desire to cook the goat and eat it.”
Brown said the employees bought the goat from a local farmer and brought it into the restaurant after hours, Brown said.
Health officials announced the E. coli outbreak June 7. Officials said they learned of another suspected case of E. coli Monday, bringing the total to eight confirmed cases and 13 suspected cases.
The patients in Rowan and Cabarrus have E. coli O157-H7, the most dangerous strain of the bacteria. It can contaminate beef, fruit juice and other foods, and cause severe food poisoning symptoms, including damaged kidneys and bloody diarrhea.
The bacterial infection affects the intestines and stomach. People are usually infected by drinking contaminated beverages or eating contaminated food.