The Delaware General Health District reported this week that the outbreak of gastrointestinal infection linked to a local Chipotle Mexican Grill was due to the C. perfringens toxin.
Although food samples tested negative for C. perfringens bacteria, the stool samples tested positive for the toxin that C. perfringens forms in the gastrointestinal tract.
A specific food has not been able to be identified as the source of illness. Ongoing food and stool testing is being conducted by the CDC lab.
Health District staff identified 647 people who self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming food from the Chipotle on Sawmill Parkway between Thursday July 26 – Monday July 30, 2018.
“I am extremely proud of our team! This investigation included countless hours of phone calls and interviews along with multiple inspections. We are also appreciative of our community for being very cooperative during this investigation and for understanding our work in protecting the public’s health. We are also thankful for the work of our partners at the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC,” said Delaware County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson.
In response to this outbreak, Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill stated that “Chipotle Field Leadership will be retraining all restaurant employees nationwide beginning next week on food safety and wellness protocols.”
Clostridium perfingens intoxication is due to a toxin mediated infection where the ingested bacteria colonize in the intestinal tract and subsequently produce their toxin.
Although Clostridium perfringens is an organism most frequently associated with gas gangrene, it is also a major cause of food poisoning
Almost all outbreaks are associated with inadequately heated or reheated meats, usually stews, meat pies, and gravies made from beef, turkey or chicken.
Outbreaks of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning are usually traced to catering firms, restaurants, cafeterias and schools with inadequate cooling and refrigeration facilities for large-scale service.
After a period of 8 to 22 hours, this intestinal disease is characterized by a sudden onset of colic followed by diarrhea and nausea. Vomiting and fever are not usually present.
It is generally a mild disease lasting about 24 hours or less. It is rarely fatal in otherwise healthy people.
However, there is a more severe disease caused a different strain of C. perfringens (type C strains). This disease can cause necrotic enteritis which is frequently fatal. Also known as pig-bel syndrome, this strain can cause necrosis of the intestine and can go septic.
In order to prevent getting Clostridium perfringens food poisoning the following steps should be taken:
• Serve meat dishes hot or cool them by refrigerating till serving.
• Large cuts of meat must be thoroughly cooked.
• For more rapid cooling of large dishes like stews, divide the stew into several smaller, shallower containers and refrigerate.
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