At least 40 sick with Shigella after ‘eating food contaminated with feces at potluck birthday party’ in North Carolina

I’m not a big fan of the potluck.

Sure I get social aspect, the trying different foods and experiencing different cultures.

But do I trust the different food prep places, proper temperatures, storage and cleanliness.

Jane Wester of the Charlotte Observer reports at least 40 people are sick after eating contaminated food at a potluck birthday party in east Charlotte Saturday, Mecklenburg County health department officials said Monday.

Someone who prepared food for the party did not wash their hands well enough, Health Director Gibbie Harris said. Some partygoers are infected with a “highly contagious” disease called shigella, which causes diarrhea and is spread through feces, Harris said.

About 100 people attended the birthday party, and more may still get sick, as symptoms of shigella can take one to three days to show up after someone is infected, Communicable Disease Control director Carmel Clements said. It’s possible, however, for some people to get sick a whole week later, Clements said.

Most patients called 911 from the Forest Hills apartment complex, near where the party was held, according to Medic.

Health officials are sure that the contaminated dish was prepared in someone’s home rather than a restaurant, Harris said, because the only outside food at the party was the birthday cake.

Fear and loathing in North Carolina: Pizzeria employee suspected of putting rat poison in cheese

Joel Shannon of USA Today reports police aren’t sure what substance Ricky Lee Adami put into the cheese, but they think it was rat poison. 

That’s according to a Wednesday release from Fayetteville, N.C., police who said Adami had been charged with food tampering in connection with an incident at the Primo Pizza restaurant.

Adami is charged with distributing food containing noxious/deleterious material.

No contaminated cheese was served to customers, police say.

Adami was charged after an alert manager noticed an unknown substance mixed into the shredded cheese on a pizza, police say.

The manager stopped preparing the pizza and looked up surveillance footage to determine which employee prepared the cheese, police say. 

Adami has been previously convicted of multiple crimes in the 1980s and 1990s, according to public records obtained by The Charolette Observer. Among those crimes: burning a public building, multiple DWIs, and multiple breaking and enterings.

Adami is 55-years-old and was an employee at the Primo Pizza restaurant located at 2810 Raeford Road in Fayetteville, the Observer reports.


Seek and ye shall find: Frozen corn recalled after Listeria-positive

Cambridge Farms of York, Pa., is voluntarily recalling frozen corn distributed at retail supermarkets in 15 states, including North Carolina.

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut CornThe company launched the recall after a routine sample collected at a retail location by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported to date.

“This recall is a direct result of our routine surveillance program, where our inspectors collect products commonly purchased by consumers in our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These products are then tested at our Food and Drug Protection Lab for common pathogens such as Listeria, Salmonella and E coli.”

The following products and production codes are included in this recall:

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut Corn in a 16-ounce Polybag UPC 8685401734

  • Code SWFF/R10312, Best by 4/11/18
  • Code SWFFR/10452, Best by 5/09/18
  • Code SWFF/R10609, Best by 6/6/18

Laura Lynn Frozen Cut Corn in a 32-ounce Polybag UPC 8685401717

  • Code SWFF/R 10482, Best by 5/10/18

Key Food Frozen Cut Corn in a 16-ounce Polybag UPC 7329607091

  • Code SWFF/R10320, Best by 4/11/18
  • Code SWFF/R10405, Best by 5/2/18

Better Valu Frozen Cut Corn in a 14-ounce Polybag UPC 7980124561

  • Code SWFF/R10308, Best by 4/11/18

The above codes will be on the back of the retail package.

Chapman, what’s going on? North Carolina couple charged with assaulting each other with pizza rolls

A Gastonia couple were arrested early Monday morning after police say they threw pizza rolls at each other.

pizza.rolls.ju;16At around 1 a.m. Monday, officers responded to a home in the 3100 block of Spring Valley Drive in Gastonia.

When officers arrived, the couple told them they got into an argument that led to the tossing of pizza rolls. Brad Scott Beard, 24, and Samantha Brook Canipe, 21, were each charged with simple assault in the incident.

Chapman country: Wild mushroom certification efforts leave bitter taste

On a busy night in downtown Asheville, countless chefs are unknowingly breaking the law.

A sushi restaurant serving wild mushroom rolls. An Italian eatery offering wild mushroom risotto. A Mexican restaurant with wild mushroom sopes listed on the menu.

How-to-forage-for-mushrooms-630x399They’re all cashing in on a growing interest in foraged foods, where “wild” and “foraged” are menu buzzwords with the same cache in Asheville as “local.”

But not every “wild” mushroom you’ll find in a restaurant is really found in the forest. Some are farm-raised. And those chefs who serve legitimately foraged foods might find themselves on the wrong side of the health inspector.

That’s because in 2009 the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health declared wild mushrooms forbidden menu items, unless individually inspected by an approved mushroom-identification expert.

The problem lies in what exactly constitutes an “expert” in the state’s eyes.

“It’s illegal for restaurants in North Carolina to serve wild mushrooms because they have to come from an ‘approved source,’ which has to be an ‘expert’,” forager Alan Muskat said. “But they’ve never established what that means and how to become one.”

A wiry character widely known as the Asheville Mushroom Man, Muskat has foraged through farm and field with the Food Network’s Andrew Zimmern and other culinary cognoscenti. But Muskat is not officially certified as an expert and, to his knowledge, no one is. Not yet, anyway.

Identifying experts is the job of North Carolina’s newly-formed “Wild Mushroom Advisory Committee,” which is meeting to nail down state regulations governing wild mushrooms as their sales grow in response to demand.

The committee aims to determine who gets to become an expert and how, also working to offer guidelines so third parties can train hopeful foragers.

Muskat, who abandoned his business selling mushrooms to restaurants as his foraging tours have grown in popularity, has been asked to serve on that committee. “So basically, for 20 years, I’ve been breaking the law, and now they’ve asked me to help improve it,” he said.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services did not answer requests for information on how the process would work.

Dozens are sickened every year in Australia from consuming wild mushrooms.


Person County NC has a lot of norovirus

Or so it seems.

CBS is reporting that almost 700 students, about 14% of the district, missed school today due to gastro illnesses that appear to be from norovirus, according to CBS News.

Superintendent Danny Holloman said there were 668 absences in the district Thursday, or 14 percent of the student population. Most of the absences came from Person High School, where more than 300 students stayed home.10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x3001-300x300

Holloman said it’s not known how many students are actually sick and how many stayed home as a precaution.

CBS Raleigh affiliate WRAL reports Holloman realized something was going around just before lunch time yesterday, when large numbers of students were going home sick.

According to the Person County Health Department, a local doctor’s office experienced a similar situation with several patients and staff members coming down with virus-like symptoms last week. The North Carolina Division of Public Health asked that samples be collected from students to use for testing. The samples will be tested for both norovirus and other enteric pathogens, officials said.

Norovirus maybe? 100 students sent home from NC schools

Sick kids can spread gastrointestinal viruses around pretty quickly. I write from experience, my kids have brought home what was likely norovirus a couple of times from school/preschool and spread it to Dani and I.10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x3001-300x300

Once the perfect human pathogen is in a restaurant, grocery store, or cruise ship – or school – it’s tough to get it out without some illnesses.

Part of the problem with noro (beyond the low mean infectious dose; environmental stability; and, 10^9 virus particles per gram of vomit/poop) is a vomit event can lead to particles floating through the air. And maybe moving 30 feet from the barf splatter.

According to ABC 11, over 100 students in Person County, NC are suffering from something that looks like norovirus.

Person County Schools says more than 100 students were sent home from school Wednesday due to illness.

The problem appeared to be come kind of virus that caused stomach problems.

Sources said 84 students and 6 teachers from Person County High School and 17 students from Helena Elementary School in the Timberlake area went home.

Managing a norovirus outbreak is a bit tricky, here are a couple of infosheets we’ve used/developed over the years that might be of use.

Norovirus is a problem for campuses and cafeterias

Vomiting and fecal episodes

100 now sick with Salmonella after eating at North Carolina BBQ restaurant

That went up fast.

tarheel.qHealth types say there’s now about 100 people sick from eating at at Tarheel Q, located at 6835 West U.S. 64 in Lexington, NC, several days before becoming ill.

A sign posted on the door Wednesday said the restaurant would close until Monday, June 29, “to ensure all areas of our operation are of the highest standard.”

Though inspectors are still working to figure out the source of contamination, the restaurant was asked to clean and sanitize all surfaces including the walk-in refrigerator.

Over 30 sickened with Salmonella linked to North Carolina BBQ restaurant

The Davidson County Health Department and Davie County Health Department are working with the N.C. Division of Public Health to investigate a gastrointestinal illness outbreak among patrons of a local restaurant.

tarheel.qAs of Tuesday, the health departments said they have identified over 30 individuals with signs and symptoms consistent with salmonellosis.

The health departments said all people with symptoms ate at Tarheel Q, located at 6835 West U.S. 64, Lexington, several days before becoming ill.

At least seven of the individuals had to be hospitalized due to their illness, the health departments said.

Home-canned carrots linked to North Carolina botulism case

A couple of weeks ago I ran into a barfblog reader who commented to me, ‘You’re really scared of botulism, aren’t you?’ This wasn’t a random question, it was related to a few things I had posted following over 20 illnesses linked to a potluck dinner at Cross Pointe Free Will Baptist Church in Lancaster, Ohio.

Scared isn’t how I would describe it. Rattled and in awe of are probably better terms. The toxin blocks motor nerve terminals at the myoneural junction, causing paralysis. It starts with the mouth, eyes, face and moves down through the body. It often results in paralysis of the chest muscles and diaphragm, making a ventilator necessary. Months of recovery follow an intoxication.Carrots

Maybe I am scared.

There isn’t a whole lot of botulism in the U.S. every year, and not all of it is foodborne – (infant botulism is more common); over the past two decades, improperly home preserved foods are the main source.

Any case is notable.

Earlier this year there was a botulism illness in Ashe County, North Carolina that was

The case was first reported during a panel at the NC Food Safety and Defense Task Force annual meeting. Rose Hoban of North Carolina Health News captured the highlights.
It only took one bite.

Five days later, an Ashe County woman lay in the hospital, on a ventilator, unable to breathe.

Home canning food has a technical aspect to it that’s dangerous to ignore, said Ben Chapman from N.C. State University.

The woman, who’s name has not been released, told health officials she didn’t even swallow the carrot. She opened the home-canned jar of carrots, tasted one, decided it looked and tasted off, and spit it out.

But that was enough to give her botulism, sending her to the hospital for an 11-week stay.

She was lucky there was an off flavor, said Ben Chapman, a food-safety expert from N.C. State University.

“The toxin itself doesn’t have the sensory attributes that we associate with spoilage,” Chapman said this week at a presentation about the case during a meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Food Safety and Defense that was held at the N.C. Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park.

Chapman said the procedure the woman had used to treat the carrots may have left some other bacteria behind that created the off taste. But her canning technique was not correct, which also left behind botulism spores in her carrots.

She was fortunate to have ingested a small enough amount that her hospital stay was relatively short compared to what happens in many botulism cases, Chapman said.

And he offered the story as a cautionary tale as we head into the main growing season when many people pull out pots and jars to preserve the fruits of the season.

It took several days for a possible diagnosis of botulism poisoning to show up in the woman’s medical record, said Nicole Lee, an epidemiologist from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The woman’s daughters and a friend told doctors that she canned her own food. Before she was intubated, the woman said she suspected the carrots.

But doctors also needed to rule out a stroke or other neurological problems. It took more than a week for doctors to tell state health officials that they suspected botulism.

“That immediately got our attention,” said Lee. “We had gotten wind that this person was canning her own food. We weren’t sure if these items were being sold in commerce or across state lines.”

“I was on my way to Morganton and I got a call to divert,” recounted Susan Parrish, a food regulatory supervisor for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Parrish, who monitors food outbreaks around the state, was given the carrots by one of the woman’s friends.

“They were in a quart jar,” said Parrish, who put on a biohazard suit to handle it. “Obviously, she had only tasted a bite, because the jar was full.”

A sample of the carrots was shipped to the Food and Drug Administration.

The results came back from the FDA “barely positive,” said the FDA’s Mancia Walker. “But with [botulism], barely positive is like a little bit pregnant.”

“This was a tragic mistake that can happen to anyone not using proper canning procedures,” he said, explaining that the woman had not pressure canned the carrots, which would have created temperatures high enough to kill botulism spores.

“There are very passionate people who are maybe not doing canning with science-based recommendations,” said Chapman, who has studied how people preserve food.

He said that when he’s asked canners where they learned to can, they tell him the knowledge has been passed down rather than learned in a home economics class or a workshop that’s strong on the science.

“We’ve seen in other cases where [a] family link perpetuates error,” said Chapman, who said there are plenty of books, classes and online instructions from agricultural extension services.