Health officials in Contra Costa County are looking into a food-borne illness outbreak at a church’s Thanksgiving Dinner, which has left three dead and 17 others ill. According to a KTVU news report, the tragedy occurred in Antioch over the holiday weekend. The food was served at the local American Legion Hall on November 25, 2016. A total of 835 people were served at the Golden Hills Community Church’s annual Thanksgiving feast for people without family or the means to make their own holiday dinner.
Some of the food was prepared and brought from people’s homes and some, donated by stores or restaurants. Some of it was cooked at the American Legion Hall where the buffet is served. The facility does have a county permit for food preparation. The health department, so far, has not found any reason to shut down the kitchen. Testing so far has ruled out norovirus.
But health officials say they need more time to figure out which pathogen caused the illnesses and deaths. They are in the process of collecting samples from those who were sickened and are interviewing survivors about all the food consumed. Officials are looking to talk to others who may have had some symptoms, but didn’t seek healthcare. Of the four people who were hospitalized, four have recovered enough to go home. The incident is still under investigation.
Preventing Food Poisoning During the Holidays
As the year-end approaches, we are all likely to participate in several parties and gatherings at each other’s homes, offices and even community centers. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Here are a few steps to minimize the risk of food poisoning during the holidays:
- When you shop for groceries, place raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods such as fruits and vegetables in your shopping cart and in your bags.
- When you prepare food, use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods.
- Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross contamination.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat.
If you or a loved one has suffered food poisoning at a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, please get prompt medical attention, report your illness to your local healthcare agency and contact an experienced California food poisoning lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.