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Chicken Salad Caused Food Poisoning at Arkansas Prison

Arkansas health officials now think it was something in the chicken salad made almost half the inmates ill at the historic Tucker prison.

Chicken salad recipes are often highly personalized, but among the typical ingredients are: chicken, celery, scallions or sweet onions, fresh tarragon or fresh dill, parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, kosher salt and black pepper.

As many as 357 of the prison’s 849 inmates were stricken beginning Aug. 3 with symptoms that included bouts of both vomiting and diarrhea. The prison gatheered the ill in a gymnasium and was forced to cancel Sunday visitations and the release of five paroles had to be delayed until Wednesday.

The Arkansas Health Department assigned 15 environmental health experts to the prison to take food and environmental samples, collect stool samples and interview inmates and staff. They are now focused on finding the contaminated ingredient.

The 96-year-old Tucker Unit was originally known as the Arkansas State Prison Farm.

Visitation will resume at the prison located in Jefferson County on Saturday.

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