Health officials have suspended the operating permit of a north Alabama catering company by emergency order after at least 99 people became sickened from eating Salmonella-contaminated food the company provided at a wedding.
The Alabama Department of Public Health tested samples of the food served at a Nov. 12 wedding in Sheffield, Ala., and found Salmonella enteritidis bacteria in specimens of cooked chicken and green beans.
Indelible Catering of Moulton prepared the food for the wedding. The catering company was also identified as the source of a 2014 outbreak of Salmonella poisoning and E. coli infection at a luncheon. That outbreak led to the death of a 71-year-old woman six days after the event.
Approximately 150 people attended the Nov. 12 wedding. Of the 99 reported illnesses, 22 required hospitalization. All of those who were treated at the hospital have since been released, the Decatur Daily reported.
Assistant state health officer Dr. Karen Landers told the Decatur Daily that “chicken was likely the primary source of the germ.” Raw chicken is commonly contaminated with salmonella bacteria that may survive cooking if the internal temperature of the chicken does not reach 165 degrees.
Dr. Landers added that the salmonella in the green beans served at the wedding likely stemmed from cross-contamination with the chicken. The green beans could have become contaminated by poor food preparation practices or by using the same serving utensils for the green beans and chicken.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella bacteria sickens an estimated 1.2 million people and causes the deaths of about 450 annually in the U.S.
People begin showing symptoms of Salmonella illness (Salmonellosis) in six to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, fever, and headache. Most people will recover without treatment after a couple of days, but symptoms may linger in a milder form for a week or even months. Symptoms can be especially severe, even deadly, to the elderly, very young, and those with weak immune systems or pre-existing health problems.
According to the Decatur Daily, the 2014 outbreak occurred after a luncheon hosted for senior citizens by the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service at Bridge Builders International Church. Many of the attendees at the event were volunteers with Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, an organization headed by Michael Tubbs.
“Two and a half years ago, several of our agency volunteers became very ill when the extension service contracted with Mr. McDaniel,” Mr. Tubbs told the Decatur Daily. Mr. McDaniel is the owner and operator of Indelible Catering. “We asked then that this be looked into and are very disappointed to hear that the caterer has once again been involved in another, even worse event.”