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Staph in Turkey Caused Homeless Shelter Outbreak

Improper handling implicated

The foodborne illness outbreak that sickened at least 60 recipients of a meal at the Denver Rescue Mission last month has been linked to turkey contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, officials say.

According to the Denver Department of Environmental Health, a stool sample from one of the outbreak victims tested positive for Staph, pointing to that bacteria as the cause of illness. This discovery matches up with the fact that victims became ill within an hour after eating. Symptoms of most foodborne illnesses do not appear until several hours or even days or weeks after contact with the pathogen, while the vomiting induced by a Staph infection begins almost immediately.

While other dishes such as mashed potatoes and a vegetable side were served at the July 22 dinner, the turkey was the suspected source of contamination, since evidence suggests that it was not handled according to sanitation standards.

“Poor hygienic practices were linked with preparation of that turkey, as well as temperature abuse after it was prepared,” said Danica Lee, Program Manager at the Denver Department of Environmental Health in an interview with Food Safety News.

Staph bacteria are usually found on the skin and nasal passages of humans. They can grow in foods kept at improper temperatures, and cause illness if ingested.

Officials say there that this incident was strictly due to improper handling, not to previous contamination, therefore there is no risk of more illnesses linked to the outbreak.

“We have no reason to believe it was anything other than an isolated incident where organizational practices in handling of the food were not followed,” says Environmental Public Health Food Supervisor, Abby Davidson in a statement. “These practices were documented and immediately corrected by the Denver Rescue Mission’s leadership and staff.”

© Food Safety News
  • courtney

    that is so horrible.