Keep Food Poisoning off Summer Menu
Don't Forget Food Safety at Summer Food Festivals, Family Reunions
July 13, 2007 -- Food poisoning sent at least 10 people to the hospital and
sickened more than 100 others at this year's Taste of Chicago food
All of those people ate at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth at the Taste
of Chicago festival, which was held in Chicago from June 29 to July 2.
At least nine festival-goers who ate at that booth were infected with
salmonella, which are bacteria that typically cause fever, abdominal cramps,
and diarrhea, which may be bloody.
Most people recover from salmonella infection within a week. But some cases
may be severe and even life-threatening. Babies, the elderly, and people with
weak immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness from
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that tahini -- a sesame seed paste used
to make hummus -- may be linked to the salmonella outbreak. The restaurant's
owners say their facility is clean and that they practice food safety.
However, food poisoning doesn't just happen at restaurants. Home cooking can
also harbor health hazards -- even at family reunions, as a new CDC report
Family Reunion Food Poisoning
Talk about a family reunion gone wrong -- so wrong that it's featured in
this week's edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
The family reunion, held last October in West Virginia, included 53
relatives from Florida, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West
More than half of the attendees came down with diarrhea or vomiting, and six
of them sought medical care for their symptoms.
Four other people who weren't at the reunion but live with reunion attendees
also got sick.
A norovirus outbreak linked to the family reunion caused the illnesses.
Noroviruses are America's leading cause of upset stomachs, according to the
After interviewing 48 reunion attendees, health officials zeroed in on three
menu items that appeared to be related to the outbreak. Those three foods were
chicken, scalloped potatoes, and a chocolate cheese ball.
The CDC, which hasn't named the family in question, doesn't mention whether
those foods were all made by the same person, whether the foods weren't stored
safely, or whether people were passing food around without having washed their
Food Safety Tips
Even if you're not going to a food festival or family reunion this summer,
it never hurts to brush up on your food safety know-how.
Basically, it boils down to four steps:
- Clean your hands, cooking surfaces, countertops, and utensils in hot, soapy
water before and after preparing each food item. Rinse produce in running
- Separate raw meat from cooked foods. Clean plates, utensils, and cutting
boards that have touched raw meat.
- Cook foods thoroughly. Use a (clean!) cooking thermometer to make sure meat
and poultry is done.
- Refrigerate meat or poultry as it defrosts; don't let it thaw on the
countertop. Store foods promptly; don't let them linger on the table.