Arizona Restaurant Linked to E. Coli Outbreak Confuses TV Personality for Real Food-Safety Expert

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A branch of Federico's Mexican Food in Arizona is trying too hard to make up for the fact that it served meals that Maricopa County Health Department officials say made 74 people sick with E. coli O157 over the summer. In addition to giving away free burritos all day next Monday (ostensibly for Mexican Independence Day), the Litchfield Park restaurant will bring in this woman, who owns an industrial cleaning company in Michigan, presides over a sort of as-seen-on-TV product line, and otherwise has been known to scrub toilets with Tang and wash dogs with Massengill. Considering that just a month ago 23 of those sickened had to be hospitalized after suffering fevers and bouts of bloody diarrhea, what could possibly go wrong?

This promo video, dug up by the Phoenix New Times, must have been designed with a quick one-two punch PR strategy: "Queen of Clean" Linda Cobb gets to promote her "New York Times best-selling" books and pimp her cleaning supplies, while the public gets a not-so-subtle peek into the prep kitchen at Federico's look! vegetables and meats are cut at two separate workstations! with color-coded knives! And what's that in the background at the 1:55-minute mark? Gloves! Sanitizer! Cleanliness!

Cobb tells us that she's convinced the restaurant to try using her branded "Nature's Kloth" to sanitize tables. "It doesn't hold bacteria," she proclaims, holding a dry specimen. (Though the product is somehow simultaneously adept at "absorbing more micro-organisms than leading competitor," her website fatuously claims.)

You can't blame a restaurant, especially one that willingly complied with authorities during an outbreak of food-borne illness, for attempting to win back the public's trust. Dispatching a bubbly salesperson with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol to go wipe down the light switches in the bathroom is not the way to do it because it does nothing to show that the restaurant's cooks and front-of-house workers now have knowledge that will help prevent future illness or recognize potential hazards. We may have been shown that the risk of cross-contamination has been reduced in the prep kitchens at Federico's, but if anything, the Queen of Clean's rampant bleach-bombing has just left the place seeming more than a little bit dirtier than she found it.

Federico's Mexican Food Offering Free Burritos for That Whole Bloody-Diarrhea Outbreak Thing [Valley Fever/Phoenix New Times]