Health dept.: Contaminated beans prepared in horse trough - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Health dept.: Contaminated beans prepared in horse trough

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Food samples taken from the Bean Day luncheon had tested positive for salmonella. Food samples taken from the Bean Day luncheon had tested positive for salmonella.
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ATHENS, AL (WAFF) -

The salmonella outbreak that left many people hospitalized in October has been sourced, in part, to beans that had been soaked in a horse trough, according to a study released by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Athens News Courier reported that the nine-page study (PDF) revealed uncooked beans for the Bean Day event in October had been soaked in a plastic-lined horse trough covered with plywood, with a hose running water through the trough, before the event. The study also revealed that existing bean soup had been refilled with new soup during the event.

The News Courier states while investigators could not determine specifically when or where the beans became contaminated, the report stated that "opportunities for person-to-person, food-to-food and equipment-to-food cross-contamination or improper holding temperatures" could have been the root cause.

The Courier notes that the health department did not know if the trough had been used prior to the event, but that the "other opportunities" for contamination included:

  • Handling food without gloves
  • Turning off heat sources without monitoring temperature of the food
  • Transferring beans in outside cooking pots to a smaller pot on wheels to transport food inside
  • Using one sterno can per 6-inch-deep chaffing pan to maintain holding temperature of the beans
  • Re-using chaffing pans and adding new beans to existing beans throughout the serving period
Food samples from the event had tested positive for salmonella. At least 50 people sought treatment for illnesses related to the foodborne pathogen, though not all of the people examined had a confirmed case.

Monday afternoon, officials with the Athens-Limestone Foundation on Aging, hosts of the Bean Day event, issued a statement in response to the event, which you can read in full here (PDF).

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