Georgia Lions Club serves Salmonella: 67 ill

A report released Friday by the East Metro Health District concluded that the October outbreak of salmonella in Newton County, Georgia, was associated with consumption of pulled pork sold by the Covington Lions Club at Sherman’s Last Burning.

A total of 67 illnesses were reported among attendees at the event, which took place from Oct. 12-14, 2007, at the Newton County Fairgrounds, and that stool cultures from 17 of the cases tested positive for Salmonella Newport.

Of those 67 reported cases, 28 individuals sought medical attention and five people were hospitalized.

The report concluded that salmonella was significantly associated with four factors: attendance on Oct. 12, eating the ticketed meal prepared by the Lions Club on Oct. 12, eating the pulled pork from the meal on Oct. 12 and consumption of some "other" food item from the ticketed meal.

Covington Lions Club President Mike Free said,

"The Lions Club is just mortified that people got sick at our event. We’re just glad that no one got seriously hurt. … The Lions have been cooking barbecue for 35 years and have never had this problem before and don’t plan on having it again and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Anyone who serves, prepares or handles food, in a restaurant, nursing home, day care center, supermarket, local market or yes, even  a Lion’s Club BBQ, needs some basic food safety training. And health inspectors are there to provide some minimal oversight.

BTW, kudos to the local health unit for some speedy reporting on the outbreak. Other outbreaks happen all the time, and the government-types involved — local, state/provincial, federal — are never heard from once the initial media interest is replaced by whatever celebrity is currently in rehab.