71 now sick; Salmonella outbreak at church BBQ

The number of salmonella cases linked to a church barbecue fund raising event earlier this month at Sandy Plains Baptist Church in North Carolina has climbed to 71, with no leads on the cause.

But that didn’t stop a local NBC affiliate to quote those who would blame the consumer.

“I think if you just take some common steps — you look at the food when it’s served, if anything looks under cooked, if your doug.thermometerhamburger looks pink, if your chicken doesn’t look cooked, then send it back and ask it to be cooked until it’s not raw any more.”

That was from a communicable disease nurse, who should know that color is a lousy indicator and that tip-sensitive digital thermometers are required to confirm safety.

And these events have little or no food safety oversight.

Vera Vaughn is an environmental health specialist with the Beaufort County Health Department. She says, “There’s a general statute that allows not for profit organizations that are exempt from federal taxes to sell food for two consecutive days once a month — so it’s not regulated by anyone. We in Beaufort County have an application we ask folks to fill out — so that we know what’s going to happen, what food is going to be sold so if there were to be an outbreak — we can try to trace it back to what food item may have been served or sold.”

I’ve been cooking at the kids’ events for over 15 years – with a thermometer.