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Man sues Health Department over food poisoning claims

Brittany Costello
November 17, 2017 10:22 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- His business down the drain and reputation tarnished, a Santa Fe man says he was left with pretty much nothing after the New Mexico Department of Health blamed him for giving dozens of workers food poisoning.

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Shannon Quintana used to own Bad Ass Sandwich Company in Santa Fe. Around this time last year, he was offered a catering job for the New Mexico Department of Health. Now he said he's suing.

"I walk around town and everybody says there’s the dude that got 70 people sick," said Quintana.

That's because one day after he was hired to cater a holiday party, the agency reported around 70 people had gotten food poisoning. In addition to that, he'd been cited for not having a catering permit.

Quintana said there's much more to the story.

"I told them I had never catered before but if they wanted to order sandwiches from my shop that's fine," he said.

He said he was not only offered the job, but they requested him to stray from his normal sandwich menu. He was asked to prepare chicken and steak.

"This is the Department of Health," Quintana said. "Why would I question them at all? If they contacted me, it means I can do everything they're asking me to do."

The holiday meal was to be served in the DOH building, but he was told he wouldn't have a kitchen to use. In addition to his meal, he said other employees brought their own dishes.

"They had salsa, queso. They had fruit salad. They had pies and, again, there was no event kitchen because they didn’t let me use the kitchen,” he said.

Quintana requested the lab reports from the state, the ones that had confirmed the many foodborne illnesses. He did not receive 70 reports, instead just three, confirming a bacteria was discovered.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the "lab results were only needed from a sample of those that were ill." Quintana claims those reports don't conclusively conclude anything, so he's taking the state to court.

"Now I don’t have a business," he said. "I don’t have anything."

As far as the lack of catering permit, Quintana said there's normally a process the state goes through when awarding bids. He thought that process would have required them to check his credentials to see if he met the catering specifications.

The New Mexico Department of Health spokesperson said: "if a restaurant doesn't have the appropriate permit, they would expect them to refuse a catering request.”

Credits

Brittany Costello

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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