Clostridium perfringens bacteria is ubiquitous in the environment and causes many cases of food poisoning throughout the year in the United States. In fact, two foodborne illness outbreaks at Thanksgiving dinners this year were caused by this bacteria.
The outbreak at Golden Ponds restaurant in Greece, New York that sickened 260 people was caused by C. perfringens. And the deadly outbreak at the Antioch American Legion in California was also caused by that bacteria.
FoodSafety.gov is offering advice to help prevent this type of food poisoning. The bacteria are often found in meats and poultry. The bacteria grows when large amounts of foods are not kept at safe temperatures during serving. That’s why these outbreaks occur at holiday parties, at nursing homes, in restaurants, and during catered events.
At Golden Ponds restaurant, officials found Clostridium perfringens in the gravy and in stool samples taken from patients. That food was made in one large single pot. The temperature can vary in foods held in large containers, and some of the gravy was in the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F.
And at the Antioch American Legion, Contra Costa Health Services announced that Clostridium perfringens was found in the food taken for testing. In that outbreak, at least 25 people were sickened, and three people died. Most of those sickened ate turkey and mashed potatoes. That event was catered by a community church. Some of the food was prepared at private homes, which can increase the chances of foodborne illness.
The symptoms of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning include stomach cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, and violent diarrhea. People sickened with this bacteria do not experience fever or vomiting. These symptoms usually occur very quickly, which makes the identification of this type of foodborne illness easier. Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria food poisoning symptoms usually begin days after exposure to these pathogens.
Most people recover on their own after this infection, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized. Dehydration is a common complication from a C. perfringens infection. Those who are more susceptible to serious complications from this illness include the elderly, the very young, people with chronic diseases, and those with compromised immune systems.
If you or a loved one were sickened in these outbreaks, contact our experienced food safety attorneys for help to protect your legal rights. Call 1-888-377-8900 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.
To prevent this common cause of food poisoning, restaurant employees and those who serve food to the public need to be educated in how to safely store and serve food. All foods should be cooked to a safe final temperature. then they must be kept warmer than 140°F or colder than 40°F by using warming plates, ice, or other appliances.
Leftover foods also need to be refrigerated at 40°F or less within two hours after preparation. Large pots of food must be divided into small quantities before they are put into the refrigerator, so they will cool quickly and bacteria will not grow.