Health department warns of possible food contamination in McDonald's sewage overflow

BELLEVUE -- Health officials warned McDonald's customers that food may have been contaminated in a sewage backup Wednesday at a Bellevue restaurant, and encouraged anyone who ate at the McDonald's to watch for sickness.

A McDonald's restaurant in the 13000 block of Ne 20th Street was closed Wednesday afternoon after a sewage backup was found at the facility, officials said. According to Hilary Karasz of Public Health Seattle and King County, a customer at the McDonald's called public health officials after they spotted water coming out of the women's bathroom.

The water was allegedly coming from underneath an ice machine in the restaurant.  The restaurant was forced to close, Karasz said, and it is uncertain when it will reopen.

"This thing happens, just as home residents have sewage backup problems," Karasz said.

Karasz said it's impossible to know how long the leaking occurred, and if it caused any contamination in food.

"There is always a risk with food contamination, which is why they take these things seriously when the problems are discovered," Karasz said. "However in this particular case, they have no way of knowing if the leaking affected the food.

McDonald's Corporation released a statement following the closure, saying the company is working to reopen the restaurant.

“Due to a plumbing issue, we have had to close our restaurant," McDonald's said. "We are cooperating with the local health department and we will reopen as soon as these issues are resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Our goal is to always serve our customers the food and beverages they enjoy in a safe and clean environment.”

McDonald's said the plumbing issue is fixed, and they hope to open the doors after an inspection scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Public health officials encouraged anyone who ate at the restaurant recently to call if they find themselves ill from a food borne illness.  Individuals should call the hotline at 206-296-4774.