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Tomatoes from church dinner positive for Salmonella; dozens report illnesses

Tomatoes from church dinner positive for Salmonella; dozens report illnesses

Kansas health officials say tomatoes served at a church dinner tested positive for Salmonella Newport and are the likely the cause of dozens of reported illnesses.

At least 14 of the people who attended the Indian Taco Dinner at Highland (KS) United Methodist Presbyterian Church have confirmed Salmonella infections, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The department did not report how many people attended the dinner, but 69 out of 115 people who have responded to a survey reported gastrointestinal illnesses after the event.

“Testing of food that was served at the dinner has been completed and all tested negative for Salmonella except for a sample of tomatoes that tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella Newport,” according to the Kansas health department report on the Aug. 7 taco dinner.

“Tomatoes were provided by multiple people so an environmental assessment of the sources of tomatoes is planned to potentially determine how this contamination occurred.”

Multiple people provided the tomatoes for the dinner, which is complicating the outbreak investigation. 

“… an environmental assessment of the sources of tomatoes is planned to potentially determine how this contamination occurred. In addition, KDHE is assessing whether other persons that did not attend the taco dinner could have been sickened from consuming these tomatoes,” according to the health department report.

The department initiated the survey on Aug. 10, with the most recent totals reported Aug. 31. Kansas officials reported the numbers of sick people and confirmed infections are preliminary and will be updated as the investigation proceeds.

People with questions about the investigation, or anyone who became sick after attending the church dinner, should call the Doniphan County Health Department at 785-985-3591 or the state health depatment Epidemiology Hotline at 877-427-7317.

Source: Food Safety News