Facebook Post Causes Temporary Closure Of Sidney Business

A Facebook post by Nick Weeks, Williston, ND, which was shared to multiple groups on Wednesday, March 20 showing a worm on his shirt and a burger from Burger King in Sidney, resulted in the temporary closure and thorough inspection of the restaurant.

Co-owner of Burger King, Jen Dirk, said that immediately upon hearing about the post, she called the Richland County Health Department and told her staff to pull everything they were using and keep it, pending an inspection. Dirk said she has been with Burger King for 31 years and is proud of the Sidney location for passing the health inspection with flying colors. She also said that she questioned Weeks about his experience at the store and whether he had a dog. He said that the customer service was very good. The post was taken down on Thursday, March 21.

Richland County Health Inspector Stephanie Ler said she received a call from Weeks and asked him to send her the video. He did not, but she saw it on Facebook shortly thereafter.

Ler conducted a risk-based assessment of Burger King since she believed the worm was a dog tapeworm, focusing on the factors that could have caused that kind of physical contamination. She interviewed the staff about their health and interaction with their pets, as well as their pets' health. She observed their hand washing techniques and inspected their uniforms. She then hand sorted all of the food products that were left from the day of the incident, including six bags of chopped iceberg lettuce. Another restaurant had called concerned about whether lettuce was the culprit and if they should be worried about their stock. She found no evidence of worms or any other contamination. All those products were disposed of and she completed the remainder of the inspection.

In a statement, Ler said, "Overall I did not find any evidence of contamination nor any condition that would pose a risk to the public. This is our job at the Health Department, to ensure that there aren't any conditions that pose a risk to the public. Once I could confirm that the store met the food safety requirements set by the FDA, I authorized them to open at noon on Thursday. The store closed voluntarily on Wednesday evening, which means that I did not have to invoke the power given to me by state law and local health code to forcibly close them. The local staff and management and district management were extremely cooperative. Even though I did not close them under our Health Code, I followed the procedures set out in Code to reopen them."

Ler went on to state, "The Health Department takes each complaint seriously and follows up on each complaint. We have policies, plans and procedures in place, including those that come down from the FDA, to investigate complaints and mitigate risks to the public's health."

The Roundup has reached out to Mr. Weeks multiple times and has received no response.


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