81 sick with Salmonella; illegal guinea pig slaughter at Minn. fair

Leading up to any food festival or state fair, there are lots of allegedly comforting messages about how things are thoroughly inspected and food safety is a top priority.

Doesn’t always work out that way.

In Minneapolis, at least 81 people were sickened with Salmonella after eating food at an Ecuadorian festival on Aug. 11, 2013.

Now, the Star Tribune reports the owner of New York Plaza Produce, which was linked to the outbreak, obtained guinea pigs cuy.guinea.pigfrom an unlicensed supplier and “slaughtered live guinea pigs in the back warewashing area of the meat market,” according to a Minneapolis inspection report.

Nieves Riera was issued a $1,000 citation on Oct. 1 for five violations, discovered in an inspection of the market four days after the festival. There were three “critical” violations, one pertaining to cooking food at an unlicensed facility and two others related to the handling and purchasing of the guinea pigs. 

“Nieves Riera obtained guinea pigs from an unlicensed supplier. The guinea pigs were sold at the Ecuadorian Festival,” the compliance officer noted in the inspection report. “Cooked pork was purchased from a Minneapolis Meat Market. The pork was resold at the Ecuadorian festival. The source of the pork is not an approved wholesaler.”

According to the report, Riera stated that she slaughtered the live guinea pigs in the back area of the meat market. “This is not a slaughterhouse and live animals are not allowed on the premises,” the report says.