Now 126 people have reported being ill after eating at a booth at the Taste of Chicago festival. At least 10 people have been hospitalized, and one child still remains in the hospital for recovery. A spokesperson from the Health Department, Tim Hadac, states that officials are taking food histories from all the sick and are “connecting the dots”.
The festival visitors all reported eating at the same booth, the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth. Officials think that the salmonella outbreak was due to cucumber hummus that was served.
City officials alerted the public to the outbreak on Wednesday after receiving 17 reports of illness from festival visitors. The first salmonella case was confirmed on Monday, and city health officials said it was clear by the end of the day that the booth was linked to at least a dozen reports.
The Persian restaurant has been inspected by Heath Department Officials and samples of tahini, a main ingrediant in hummus, were taken to examine. According to Hadac, the tahini has had salmonella issues in the past.
City officials say that the outbreak was very small considering the large crowd that usually attends the festival. This year over 3.5 million people came to the Taste of Chicago. The Health Department states they have done all they can, and there is no real way to detect whether food is contaminated with salmonella. Four investigators examined all the booths at least four times a day, where they checked food temperature with a digital thermometer. Every year, the festival loses over 2,000 pounds of food that are not up to par, and reserves the right to shut down any booth.
The salmonella bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms including diarrhea, fever, dehydration, and abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after infection, and typically last 4-7 days.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.