According to news reports, the probable source of the Thanksgiving outbreak at Golden Ponds restaurant in Greece, New York was Clostridium perfringens in the gravy. That food was served at too low a temperature, which lets bacteria grow and produce toxins.
Clostridium perfringens is a common food poisoning bacteria that often causes illness in foods served in institutional and restaurant settings. The bacteria naturally occur in human intestines. When it gets into nutrient-rich food, and that food is held between 40°F and 140°F, illnesses can occur.
Laboratory testing found the bacteria in the gravy taken from the restaurant and in stool samples of several of the patients sickened in this outbreak. When large volumes of food are served, keeping foods at safe temperatures becomes more difficult.
Noted food safety attorney Ryan Osterholm said, “food handlers at restaurants, nursing homes, and schools need to be aware of this issue and they must make sure that all hot food is held at safe temperatures. Hundreds of people were sickened in this outbreak because of improper holding temperatures.”
Clostridium perfringens is the “suspected” cause of the outbreak and not listed as “confirmed,” but the symptoms, timing of illnesses, and the setting of the outbreak all match that particular bacterium. The toxin produced by this bacteria is fast acting, and the main symptom of C. perfringens food poisoning is diarrhea. Most people got sick the same day or the next day in this outbreak.
According to the Monroe County Department of Public Health, the gravy was prepared in a single large container. Foods stored or served in large containers can be problematic, since it can be difficult to keep all of the food at safe serving temperatures. Food workers must make sure that food is held at safe temperatures by periodically using a food thermometer.
At least 260 people were sickened in this outbreak. Four of those patients were hospitalized. All of them have been released from the hospital and have recovered. If you were sickened in this outbreak, call our team of experienced lawyers to discuss your legal rights.
Golden Ponds has been re-inspected by public health officials and passed that inspection. The facility had had several violations of food safety laws, including the presence of insect and rodents. It will reopen this week and will be subject to more inspections in the future.