A food poisoning outbreak in Putnam County has sickened 150 people after they consumed food brought to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent this weekend.
The food was brought in for a Mother’s Day celebration, said LoHud. Putnam County health officials collected food samples visitors brought to the monastery, which have been sent to a state laboratory in Albany for testing, said Rebecca Wittenberg, public health director for the health department. “I know there have been some reports as to what caused the illness but, at this point, we do not know the cause,” she noted. “We may know when the test results come back,” she added, but did not say when that might be.
About 700 people visited the monastery from New York City, Rockland, Orange, and Westchester counties in New York, as well as from Connecticut. Of the 700, abut 500 arrived by bus from Manhattan, leaving for a shopping trip to the Woodbury Commons outlet stores in Orange County. It was there that many fell ill, said LoHud. Most people were ill with vomiting and stomach cramps; a few reported diarrhea, Wittenberg said, wrote LoHud. The ill were taken to about six hospitals based on where they were when they began experiencing symptoms, wrote LoHud. Putnam health officials are collaborating with other health officials to speak to everyone treated and to determine what they ate on Sunday and when they consumed the food, said Wittenberg.
Emergency responders in Woodbury treated some 60 people, sending about half to area hospitals. “For this amount of people, at one time, this gets classified as a MCI—massive casualty incident,” said David Sutz, Woodbury Community Ambulance emergency medical technician (EMT), said LoHud. According to Sergeant Cliff Weeks of the Woodbury police, wrote LoHud, the first patient was a 91-year-old woman; 20 other victims were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern; St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Cornwall; and Orange Regional Medical Center in Goshen to be “treated for symptoms believed to have been caused by food poisoning.”
“One of the biggest concerns (with this illness) is the risk of dehydration,” Wittenberg told LoHud. “If you did take ill and you haven’t been evaluated, we would ask people to speak to their medical provider or access an emergency room to seek treatment,” she added. Health officials ask those who ate at the monastery Sunday and who then fell ill, to contact them at 1.845.808.1390; press zero to speak with a receptionist. Wittenberg also advised those who took leftover food home from the event to dispose of it. Kent Police Detective Gerald Locascio said criminality does not appear to be involved and that investigators and health officials are working to isolate the tainted dish.
In the past, we’ve provided the following food safety rules, developed by the Mayo Clinic. They bear repeating and include:
- Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food surfaces frequently with warm water and soap prior to and following food preparing.
- Ensure raw and ready-to-eat foods are maintained separately during shopping, storage, and preparation.
- Cook food at safe temperatures and use a food thermometer. Most pathogens are killed off in temperatures between 145 F (62.8 C) and 165 F (73.9 C).
- Keep perishables refrigerated or frozen when not being prepared and store these foods within two hours of purchase or preparation unless the room temperature exceeds 90 F (32.2 C), then refrigerate within one hour. Freeze food not planned on being eaten within two days.
- Safely defrost food. Do not thaw at room temperatures; thaw in either the microwave on either the “defrost” or “50% power” setting, the refrigerator, or by running the food under cold water.
- Dispose of questionable food.
- Vulnerable populations should avoid consuming raw or rare meat and poultry; raw or undercooked fish or shellfish or undercooked eggs or foods that may contain them; raw sprouts; unpasteurized juices, ciders, milk, and milk products; soft, blue-veined cheese, and unpasteurized cheese; refrigerated pates and meat spreads; and uncooked hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.