Salmonella cases linked to Illinois chili cook-off

Kaitlyn Schwers and Don O’Brien of the Belleville News-Democrat report the St. Clair County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health are looking into reported cases of salmonella nearly a month after the chili cook-off was held downtown.

belleville-chili-cook-offThe county health department said it learned on Saturday that less than a dozen cases of salmonella had been confirmed by the state department of health through lab testing. Since then, the county health department said it has followed up with those individuals, who included some from St. Clair County, other area counties and at least one from Missouri, according to the health department’s executive director, Barb Hohlt. Hohlt said in those cases, individuals had said they attended the chili cook-off on Oct. 8.

“The individuals had went to their medical provider, and from there, subsequent testing was done,” Hohlt said.

Hohlt said the health department does not know the source of the outbreak and is still investigating the incident.

Wendy Pfeil, executive director of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, had estimated that around 60,000 people attended the two-day event last month. Previous reports said 46 food vendors competed in the chili cook-off, and more than 60 were at the event.

Hohlt said health department officials inspected all of the vendors prior to the event. She said the Chamber of Commerce has a checklist that it provides to each vendor to make sure everything is sanitized as well.