Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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2013 Bacterial Intoxications Associated with a Catered Homecoming Event, St. Paul, Minnesota

On September 28, 2013 the University of Minnesota Environmental Health and Safety Division received reports of illness among people who attended a catered picnic held as part of homecoming activities. The event was held on September 27. "Caterer X" prepared the food at a St. Paul church kitchen. The Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health (HSPHD) epidemiology unit and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducted an outbreak investigation. Information was obtained from 53 picnic attendees who were contacted by email. Twenty two met the case definition. All cases reported diarrhea. The median incubation period was 9.5 hours (range 4 to 15 hours) and the median duration of illness was 16 hours (range 4 to 65 hours). No one sought medical care. No stool specimens were collected for laboratory testing. Both cases and controls consumed a variety of foods which included vegetarian red beans and rice and red beans and rice with smoked turkey. The food was served buffet style. Attendees served themselves. Univariate analysis indicated that illness was significantly associated with consuming any type of red beans and rice, grilled chicken and brats. In multivariate analysis, only any red beans and rice was independently associated with illness. MDH sanitarians met with the owner of the catering company who used the church kitchen for food preparation. All ingredients were purchased locally. Improper cooling, hot holding, and reheating were noted. No temperature logs were maintained. The caterer was operating without a license in St. Paul and was cited. Investigators concluded that this was an outbreak associated with consumption of red beans and rice at a catered homecoming picnic. The etiology was not confirmed but the distribution of incubation periods and symptoms were characteristic of illness caused by Clostridium perfringens or the diarrhea form of Bacillus cereus. They theorized that the outbreak resulted from improper cooling procedures and improper hot-and-cold holding temperatures which created an environment in which C. perfingens or B. cereus proliferated and survived in the food.

  • Outbreak began:
  • September 2013
  • Affected Country:
  • US
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • Minnesota
  • Organism(s):
  • Unknown
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Red beans and rice
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • No
  • Test Results:
  • None
  • Location(s):
  • Picnic
  • Brand Name(s):
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • No
  • Total ill:
  • 22
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Yes
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • 0
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • 22
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • 0
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • No
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • 0
  • Any Deaths:
  • No
  • Number Dead:
  • 0
  • Any References:
  • No

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