Hillcrest Country Club Members Hospitalized After Guacamole Contamination

 May 16, 2024

A major health crisis has unfolded at Los Angeles's distinguished Hillcrest Country Club, where Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are known to frequent.

Following an alfresco dinner event on April 7, around 70 club members suffered from food poisoning believed to have been caused by contaminated guacamole.

Daily Mail reported that after eating guacamole suspected to be contaminated with shigella bacteria, two people suffered severe food poisoning and required extended hospital stays.

Immediate Health Consequences Lead to Investigation

This health scare rocked the Hillcrest Country Club as affected individuals reported severe symptoms, including high fever, gastrointestinal cramping, and diarrheal episodes. This incident sparked wide concern, leading to the hospitalization of more than 20 members.

The LA County Department of Public Health launched an investigation after a significant delay in reporting this incident to health officials.

The alfresco dinner, ordinarily a component of the club's burgeoning social schedule, became a night of distress for many. An initial dispatch from Hillcrest on April 12 addressed the outbreak and suggested potential contamination sources.

Club's Reaction to the Outbreak

Post-incident, the club dispatched a detailed letter to its members. This letter indicated potential contamination during food handling processes at the dinner:

It appears that someone who may have been sick at Sunday's Alfresco contaminated the guacamole and possibly some of the surrounding bowls or utensils. We do not think it was foodborne, as each component of the guacamole is used in multiple other areas throughout the week, and there are no signs that this occurred at any other time.

A source close to the club informed DailyMail.com that the investigation could jeopardize Hillcrest's 'A' food safety rating:

Hillcrest members have lost confidence and are really angry. Seventy people got ill from this. It caused two dozen to go to hospital, including two who were seriously ill, said a source close to the club.

As an additional follow-up to this incident, Hillcrest has engaged a food safety consultant and coordinated with the health department to prevent future outbreaks. According to Dan Meherin, the General Manager of Hillcrest, "We are deeply committed to the health and safety of our members, guests, and staff."

Legal Challenges and Public Safety Measures

Simultaneously, the club has rallied to counter claims and legal challenges arising from the incident. Hillcrest's attorney, Lyne Richardson, emphasized, "The lawsuit lacks substance, evidence, or facts and makes incendiary statements that lack legitimacy.

Hillcrest Country Club will vigorously defend against this lawsuit." Meanwhile, the DPH’s investigation, which included a comprehensive inspection of Hillcrest's facilities, revealed no significant violations, hinting at possible extrinsic contamination sources.

This serious outbreak has incited broader examinations of gastrointestinal illnesses at various venues across Los Angeles, underscoring heightened public health vigilance. Initial findings from these inquiries have yet to fully determine the scope or source of this extensive problem.

In summary, the severe food poisoning outbreak at Hillcrest Country Club on April 7 highlighted critical issues surrounding food safety and personal health security at prominent social venues. This event tested the club's crisis management capabilities. It reshaped traditional perceptions of dining safety in high-profile establishments, bringing urgent attention to public health standards and preventive measures in the hospitality industry.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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