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Sunday, May 30, 2010

US : Clostridium perfringens at Central Louisianna Hospital: what went wrong?

Via Food Poison Journal :

" The Clostridium perfringens outbreak that occurred in early May at Central Louisianna State Hospital was recently linked to contaminated chicken salad. 40 people were sickened in the outbreak, and three people died. So what went wrong? Environmental health findings--i.e. the investigation at the hospital's kitchen--have not yet been released, but the outbreak almost certainly occurred as a result of improper food handling procedures.

Clostridium perfringens is a very common pathogen in foodpoisoning outbreaks; some estimates set clostridium perfringens as the third most common cause of foodpoisoning illnesses. Most clostridium perfringens outbreaks are ultimately linked to contaminated meat, and many such outbreaks occur after holiday meals. The reason? The cooking of whole fowl species, such as chicken and turkeys, that are cooled improperly after cooking. For instance, the CDC reported on a clostridium perfringens outbreak in 2008 that occurred at a Wisconsin jail, stating as follows regarding the environmental investigation at the jail's kitchen:

On August 8, the environmental health sanitarian from the local health department met with jail kitchen supervisors and employees of the food distribution company to assess food preparation and employee health and hygiene practices. The macaroni and ground beef in the implicated casserole were cooked the day before. The sanitarian determined that food temperatures had not been obtained or recorded consistently, and documentation of cooling temperatures for both the ground beef and macaroni, where cooling from 70°F to 41°F (39°C to 23°C) is a vital step, could not be provided. An inspection of the cooler revealed improper handling and cooling of taco meat, which was being prepared for a future meal and was not implicated in this outbreak; some containers of meat were cooled with ice paddles and other containers were not."

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