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Gastrointestinal illness outbreak associated with Tacos El Guero in Kirkland

Cases 34
Hospitalizations 0
Deaths 0
Status Investigation is complete
Location 14130 Juanita Dr Ne #101, Kirkland, WA 98034
Illness onset date range September 14 and 15, 2023
Meal dates September 14, 2023
Prior food safety inspections and current rating? NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Highlights, updated October 2, 2023


Public Health investigated an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness associated with a private event catered by a Tacos El Guero food truck on September 14, 2023.  Symptoms and timing of illness onsets were suggestive of a bacterial toxin, such as Clostridium perfringens or Bacillus cereus.

The exact food or drink that caused the illnesses was not identified, though this is not uncommon for outbreaks associated with a bacterial toxin.


Public Health identified 34 sick people that developed one or more symptoms consistent with bacterial toxin, including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea. Illness onset dates ranged from September 14, 2023, to September 15, 2023.

Public Health actions

On September 15, 2023, a group reported the outbreak to Public Health after eating together on September 14, 2023. Public Health gathered information about symptoms and when people became ill.

Environmental Health investigators visited the mobile food trucks and restaurant on September 18, 2023. Investigators identified potential risk factors for bacterial toxin growth including inadequate refrigeration and improper cooling of food. They also observed inadequate equipment, improper reheating, and lack of managerial oversight. Additionally, food at this event was served out of an unpermitted food truck. Corrective actions were discussed at the time of the visit. Based on unsafe food handling practices identified during the investigation, Environmental Health Investigators closed the restaurant on September 18, 2023.

On September 27, Environmental Health Investigators revisited the facility and food trucks to verify safe food handling practices, and the facility reopened the same day. Unpermitted food trucks will remain closed until they are approved by the Health Department.

Laboratory testing

We do not have laboratory testing for the people who got sick. Bacterial toxin illnesses are typically short-lived and by the time people seek care, if they do at all, it is often too long after the suspected exposure to test.