ACT News


Lawyers preparing individual claims in relation to salmonella outbreak

Aaron Smith, 30, was in a hospital isolation ward for six days after contracting salmonella poisoning, losing 11 kilograms and fearing for the safety of his 10-month-old baby who also contracted salmonella.

Mr Smith, his fiancee Brooke Suitor, 23, and baby Tyler went for breakfast at Ricardo's Cafe on Tuesday January 31 where Tyler and his dad shared a mango smoothie.

The owner of the cafe, now closed for alleged "serious food safety breaches", said on Thursday that ACT Health had identified problems with their smoothies and cronuts.

On Wednesday February 1 Mr Smith's temperature nearly topped 40 degrees but his teeth were chattering, with a health hotline Ms Suitor had contacted sending for an ambulance.

Mr Smith was barely responding and his temperature failed to drop for 72 hours before he was discharged on Monday 7th of February. He said he was weaker and his removal business had taken a knock as he continues to recover.

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"I'm fit as anything and then all of a sudden I'm a zombie lying on the hospital bed," Mr Smith said.

"I just wanted to get better, I didn't want to get my baby sick."

Tests proved Tyler had contracted a mild dose and was still suffering symptoms on Friday.

Mr Smith was contacted by ACT Health who went through what he'd eaten before being admitted to hospital, he told them about the smoothie from Ricardo's Cafe.

"That's when [ACT Health] started asking me a couple of hundred questions about it," he said.

"I've lost a week of my life."

I just wanted to get better, I didn't want to get my baby sick.

Aaron Smith

ACT Health has identified two salmonella outbreaks at two cafes, one in Belconnen and one in Gungahlin, and they would remain closed until the problems were rectified.

Ricardo's Cafe in Belconnen had a closure notice from ACT Health on its door, as did Central Cafe in Gungahlin, both notices cited "serious food safety breaches" and a "risk to public health".

Two law firms in Canberra, Slater and Gordon and Maliganis Edwards Johnson, confirmed on Friday they were contacted by people seeking to make claims in relation to the outbreak, with Slater and Gordon expecting to lodge claims as early as next week.

​Slater and Gordon Senior Associate Liam Casey wouldn't confirm the number of people or businesses involved.

"They will not be lodged as a class action," Mr Casey said and urged anyone impacted to first seek medical attention before seeking legal advice.

He said individual claims would get a better result for claimants and he hoped to reach settlements within six months.

Maliganis Edwards Johnson partner Craig Edwards said three people had contacted his firm and affected Canberrans needed to protect themselves medically and legally by reacting promptly.

"What typically happens with these things is there's quite a bit of illness around but people don't associate it with a particular venue or outlet until they've seen it reported by somebody else, then it picks up a bit of momentum," Mr Edwards said.

Both firms had previously been involved in class action suits over salmonella outbreaks in Canberra.

Ricardo's Cafe posted on Facebook they would remain closed over the weekend and no salmonella had been found on food prepping equipment, but the post failed to mention owner Ricardo De Marco admitted salmonella had been found in the eatery on a dish cloth and tea towel.

A handwritten notice on the door of Central Cafe put the problem at that venue to a broken fridge and the recent spate of high temperatures in Canberra, but they remained closed and on Friday declined to comment.