01/06/2012 06:13 pm ET

Food Poisoning Outbreak At Delfina, Popular San Francisco Restaurant, Sickens Dozens, Goes Unreported

Say it ain't so, Delfina!

According to the Bay Citizen, about two dozen diners suffered from food poisoning at the extremely popular Mission District restaurant Delfina after a private party in December.

Upon receiving word of the outbreak, Delfina worked with the patrons to determine the source of the sickness.

"We narrowed things down to the most common denominator," said Owner and Executive Chef Craig Stoll to The Bay Citizen, who broke the story.

After discovering that a vegetarian was among those sickened, the staff narrowed the search and determined that the tainted ingredient was most likely bad salad greens. Stoll immediately contacted suppliers, but is still working on confirming the source. "We're not positive what it was," said Stoll.

Delfina has consistently received high scores on health inspections, and the outbreak is not believed to have been caused by the kitchen. (There has never been another illness at the restaurant, before or since the incident.) So SFist asked the question that should probably be on everyone's mind: "Is no one worried that there is tainted salad all over town?"

But perhaps the most alarming detail of the story was that the San Francisco Department of Public Health had not heard of the incident until contacted by The Bay Citizen.

Legally, restaurants are not required to report incidents of food poisoning, but the Health Department claimed that it is highly unusual for an outbreak of such size to go unreported.

"Over the past 13 years, I have not encountered a case where an outbreak of this magnitude was not reported directly by an ill consumer or a medical provider to the department," said San Francisco Director of Environmental Health Rajiv Bhatia to The Bay Citizen. Delfina must have thrown one hell of a party.

The Health Department was in hot water just last month when two inspectors were charged with accepting bribes for passing health exam scores at hundreds of San Francisco restaurants. Delfina was not among those restaurants, but the incident has reignited suspicions about food health and safety in San Francisco.

"Reporting of potential outbreaks should be mandatory," said Bhatia to The Bay Citizen. "For supermarkets, restaurants, schools and workplace cafeterias, even though this is not a requirement under current law."