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Food Poisoning at the Chicago Food Festival

Hundreds of people reported sick after consuming food at the Chicago food festival. All of those people ate at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth at the Taste of Chicago festival, which was held in Chicago from June 29 to July 2.

Many people were sent to the hospital, of which thirty two had a confirmed case of infection from salmonella heidelberg bacteria. Tim Hadac, of the Chicago Health Department, says a young boy is still undergoing treatment.

The Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth served a cucumber salad over hummus. Reports of salmonella infection started to come in on Monday morning. By the end of the day officials found that the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth was the common link. It seems that the tainted hummus was the culprit. Ever since, the item has been pulled of the menu.

The owners are working closely with the health department. "One case is too many," said Mike Bamboyani, owner of the Pars Cove. "We are taking all the steps that we can."

Salmonella infection causes fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, which may be bloody. Most people recover from salmonella infection within a week. But some cases may be severe and even life-threatening. Babies, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness from salmonella infection.

There are over one million reported cases of salmonella poisoning in the USA each year, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The real total is probably much higher, because salmonella poisoning symptoms are often mistaken for other illnesses, such as flu.

The large majority of reports we're receiving are from people who say they were ill but have recovered," said Chicago's health commissioner, Dr. Terry Mason. "So for the most part, the increase in reported cases signals increased vigilance by the public and by medical providers. ..."

Health officials are still trying to determine whether the problem was caused by food handlers or the food.

It's not the first time a mass outbreak has occurred at a food festival. In 2001, 300 people fell ill at an avocado festival in California, and 600 people became ill in 1991 at a Connecticut Oysterfest. Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia suggested that food-festival attendees be cautious about eating raw or cooked meat, poultry, cold cuts, fish and eggs.


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