Gas station nachos linked to outbreak that left man dead, woman paralyzed

Gas station nacho cheese is linked to a botulism outbreak in California that sickened at least 10 people and killed one of them, the California Department of Public Health said Monday.

The contaminated cheese sauce came from a gas station known as Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, about 30 miles south of Sacramento, where 33-year-old Lavinia Kelly drizzled the cheese on Doritos during a stop in her commute, The Sacramento Bee reported. She fell sick within hours, eventually landing in a hospital and unable to move her eyes.

Martin Galindo also ate from the gas station before dying amid a severe case of botulism, according to San Francisco’s KGO-TV, leaving behind his wife and two children. The illness left Galindo breathing through a ventilator and eventually in a coma, as a GoFundMe page for him detailed.

Valley Oak and Food temporarily lost its food and drink permit earlier this month, The Bee reported. The store selling the tainted cheese pulled the product on May 5, according to health officials, who believe there’s no further public risk.

Food-borne botulism is an uncommon but serious paralytic illness, the department noted, stemming from an odorless and colorless toxin found in foods not properly processed or stored. Most associate it with food canned at home, not sold in a store, and significant doses can lead to death. It’s treated with an antitoxin, typically in intensive care units.

Kelly found herself in such a unit, according to The Bee, using tape to hold open her paralyzed eyelids. She’s suing the gas station over the ordeal, which her partner said has left them bewildered.

“She’s been doing good, and we just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese,” Ricky Torres told the newspaper last week. “Really? How does that happen?”

Source: USA Today