The Chicken & Rice Guys food trucks, one of Boston's favorite meals on wheels, recently was taken off the road due to an outbreak. At least 14 people were falling ill from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC infections last April, prompting public health inspections. The result was the suspension of the health permit for all Chicken & Rice Guys establishments and their five Food Trucks in the Boston area. According to the Food Poisoning Bulletin, these people had consumed food from the Chicken & Rice Guys. Ten of them were hospitalized.

Put under voluntary halt

Two of the victims that were diagnosed with the E. coli strain of bacteria found in the outbreak have filed lawsuits against the Chicken & Rice Guys in April, during which the company was still put under an investigation.

The employees were tested for the bacteria strain, their food handling practices and environmental cleaning reviewed. The Guys’ fleet of Middle Eastern food trucks were taken off the road and their restaurants closed for public health and safety reasons. The company was fully cooperating with the inspections and regularly informed the public about it through their social media feeds, on Facebook and on Twitter as the #cnrguys.

Digitized and reopened

Within the next month, the Chicken & Rice Guys issued a press release as their brick-and-mortar locations reopened in May and to inform the public that the team is now digitizing their key food safety best practices with Squadle, a checklist and temperature management solutions.

The Guys have physical restaurants in Boston, Medford, Allston, and Austin. The restaurants, delivery services and catering services were cleared by the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Inspectional Services, who worked together on the case.

In the press release, the company said that the E.coli infections were traced to their Allston location in late March.

The symptoms of the infections could include severe and painful stomach cramps, diarrhea and mild fever that may occur days after exposure. In one of the lawsuit filed by Pritzker Hageman Law Firm, the consumer had ordered and eaten a Rice Plate with Halal chicken, rice, pita and lettuce from the Chicken & Rice Guys home delivery service.

A new ‘best in class’ kitchen

The Chicken & Rice Guys opened their first food truck in 2012. Since then their food truck armada has multiplied and their restaurants have expanded. Currently, the company is facing a few lawsuits from their first E. coli outbreak. The company's co-founder Ian So said in a video post on the Guys’ Facebook page that they were moving from the temporary kitchen that they were using, so their food trucks would be off the road for a few months. On their website, the same sort of coming soon message is also posted.

“We have been building our own facility for the past year, and it will be a best in class kitchen designed for the best food safety and operations and it’ll be our own space, so it will be great,” Ian said.