Petite Jacqueline. [Photo: Ted Axelrod]
Petite Jacqueline, the lauded French bistro on the West End, was again investigated this month by health officials for possibly causing food-bourne illness after a diner and an employee fell ill with laboratory-confirmed cases of campylobacter, a bacterial illness that causes diarrhea, vomiting, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms, the Press Herald reports.
This is the second time since the start of 2012 that the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant has been investigated as a campylobacter source. In January 2012, a group reported getting sick after eating there, with one member requiring an ER trip that confirmed the illness. Given the difficulty of tracking food-bourne illness, Petite Jacqueline has not been proven as the cause of sickness in either case, though it has not been ruled out, either. The restaurant failed health inspections in January and February of 2012 following the initial complaint before finally passing last September.
In both cases, the sickened customers had a charcuterie appetizer. The ill employee handled and ate a number of different foods. While the subsequent investigation could not pinpoint the source of the bacteria, health inspector Michael Russell "noted in his report that the restaurant uses the same color cutting boards for both meat and produce, which could result in accidental cross-contamination even though the boards were being sterilized. And he called on the restaurant to cover food items in the refrigerator to protect against contamination."
Liz Koenigsberg, the restaurant's GM and part owner, defended Petite Jacqueline's food handling: "It has not been concluded by any means that the source of illness was from Petite Jacqueline. ... All of our food-handling practices are safe."