Sticky balls slay Buddhists; why I never eat food service rice

Sticky rice balls are the suspected culprit behind a Mother’s Day outbreak of foodborne illness that sickened dozens who attended a Mother’s Day garden party and food fair at a Buddhist monastery in Carmel.

About 700 people, most of them arriving on tour buses from New York City, came to the annual event where dishes were prepared by volunteers, a spokeswoman for the Chuang Yen Monastery said.

When the tour buses arrived at Woodbury Common for a post-lunch shopping excursion, witnesses saw people crying and gripping their stomachs as they were stricken with nausea and diarrhea.

Eric Gross of the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services said about 150 people overall became sick and about 80 of those had boarded buses to go to the shopping outlet.

The Chuang Yen Monastery will be working with health officials on the investigation, the spokeswoman said.

The Putnam County Health Department asks people who fell ill after attending the party to call their hotline at (845) 808-1390.