Friday, February 10, 2017

Pork BBQ Prepared by Volunteer is the Source of Staph Enterotoxin at Florida Science Fair

In Florida, a college sponsored science fair was the site of a foodborne illness outbreak with 32 reported cases of Staphylococcus aureus intoxication. Most of the cases were children. The source of the contamination was pork BBQ which was made by a volunteer.

Probably in this case, one could see the pork BBQ being prepared the day before, partially cooled, pulled, and then cooled and stored. A few factors that could be problematic if not done properly: 1) not cooling product temperature down to refrigeration temperature within the recommended amount of time, 2) not storing the product at refrigeration temperature, some time between after it was cooked and when it was served at the event and 3) pulling the meat in unsanitary fashion such as not using gloves. The cooling could be made difficult if the amount of product is large, going beyond the capacity of the volunteer's system. Contamination of the meat after cooking could come from a number of sources, but one concern would be from the volunteers themselves, especially if they were not using gloves.

This is a reminder of the need for volunteer food safety training. Preparing and handling large quantities of food can be difficult especially for the size of this event.   

As for organizations sponsoring these types of events, in the case a college in Florida, they need to have rules in place for how food can be sourced.

News 4 Jax
Cause of science fair food poisoning uncovered; it was the pork
Nearly 30 minors, some adults taken to hospital
By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Staff
Posted: 11:29 AM, February 09, 2017Updated: 11:29 AM, February 09, 2017

LAKE CITY, Fla. - The more than 30 concurrent cases of food poisoning at a science competition in Lake City on Saturday were caused by a toxin-producing bacteria in pulled pork.
The people were taken to a hospital Saturday for what officials believe was a food-borne illness contracted at a science fair held at Florida Gateway College.

Multiple agencies were called to College, where at least 28 minors attending the Florida Science Olympiad competition were suffering from food poisoning caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria was found in the pork at a level well above the standard cutoff threshold used to confirm a food borne illness outbreak. S. aureus is commonly found on the skin and hair as well as in the noses and throats of people and animals. These bacteria are present in up to 25 percent of healthy people and are even more common among those with skin, eye, nose, or throat infections, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Due to the volume of people needing treatment, ambulances were called in from neighboring counties, and the patients were taken to Lake City Medical Center and Shands Lake Shore.
About 200 students, chaperones, teachers and FGC faculty and staff were at the competition, according to the college.

The college said it confirmed 32 individuals were hospitalized for the food-borne illness, and as of 8 p.m. Saturday, all had been treated and released.

College staff went to both hospitals and remained in contact with those who fell ill to make sure all their needs were met, a college spokesman said.

According to the college, the event was sponsored by various organizations and the food had been provided by volunteers and other organizations and was not catered by the college.

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