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Taste of Chicago Salmonella Reports Climb Over 600

Jul 19, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Pars Cove Restaurant’s booth at the Taste of Chicago food festival served up salads tainted with Salmonella.  According to the Chicago Health Department, since Monday over 100 more people have reported cases of food poisoning. That brings the total number of illness reports linked to the restaurant’s booth at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival to 636.  So far, 66 people are confirmed to have Salmonella, and 41 of those were infected with Salmonella Heidelberg.  All of those with Salmonella had eaten at the Pars Cove booth.  At least 25 people have been hospitalized.  

The health department also said that shirazi, a salad of fresh herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers served with hummus, was their only suspect in the Salmonella outbreak. Pars Cove, a popular Persian restaurant, ran a booth at the Taste of Chicago festival that served a variety of Middle Eastern dishes.  The health department first thought that a paste made from sesame seeds called tahini might have been the culprit.  By Monday, however, officials seemed certain that the outbreak originated with the shirazi.  Pars Cove has been ordered to stop serving hummus until the health department’s investigation is complete.  

Salmonella is a dangerous form of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea.   In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications.  Salmonella can be especially serious for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.  Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, painful urination, and chronic arthritis.

On Monday evening, the Chicago Health Department said that the number of reported new cases of Salmonella poisoning seemed to be tapering off, but it appears that was not the case.  The health department said that its efforts at publicizing the outbreak and encouraging people to report their symptoms could be the reason for the increase in reports. Last Friday, the health department had received just over 100 reports of Salmonella poisoning, but since then, cases surged to over 500.  

The Taste of Chicago outbreak is only the latest in a string of Salmonella poisoning cases to plague the country this year.  In February, 600 people were sickened when Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter was founded to be tainted with Salmonella.   Last month, Veggie Booty Snack Mix, a popular children’s treat, left more than 50 people ill with Salmonella poisoning.  


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