Public health officials in North Carolina have not been able to identify the foodborne pathogen that sickened at least 76 people who attended a Force Protection Industries plant dedication in Roxboro. The cause of the food poisoning outbreak has thus far been narrowed down to pork loin and/or pasta vegetable salad, according to an article in the Roxboro Courier.
When interviewed, David Bergmire-Sweat of the Epidemiology Section of the N.C. Division of Public Health noted that improper holding temperatures for food can contribute to the growth of bacteria. As reported by the Courier:
“Cold foods should be held at 45 degrees or below and hot foods should be cooked to the proper temperature or reheated to 165 degrees and then maintained at 135 degrees or above,” officials emphasized.
The Force Protection function was held on Friday, Nov. 30, at the former Collins & Aikman Corp. Elm Plant, which FP has refitted for production of the company’s Cheetah bomb-resistant armored vehicle.
Approximately 400 people attended the dedication ceremony, and the health department reported that 76 of the 335 people contacted, after health officials began investigating on Dec. 4, reported suffering from symptoms such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea and chills.
Improper food handling and holding temperatures have contributed to the spread of pathogens in several other outbreak-situations.