The source of an outbreak that sickened 35 people who attended a community health luncheon in Pueblo, Colo. is foodborne, and the company that catered the event has been closed for multiple violations, according to the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
On Tuesday, April 24, 80 people gathered to attend the Community Health Center Annual Meeting. Afterward, 35 of them became ill. Results of a stool sample test performed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) were positive for Clostridium perfringens.
Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria that causes diarrhea and abdominal cramping if ingested. Symptoms usually develop six to 24 hours after exposure and last for about a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most often, Clostridium perfringens infection occurs when foods prepared in large quantities are kept warm for a long period of time before serving. Hospitals, prisons, school cafeterias, nursing homes, and events with catered food are frequent sources of C. perfringens outbreaks, according to the CDC. Information gathered from patient interviews indicates a beef/gravy dish may be associated with the outbreak, according to Pueblo City County health officials.
The caterer of the event will not be allowed to reopen until the following criteria are met:
- Creation of written procedures for cooling, re-heating and final cook temperatures.
- Creation of written handwashing, and sick employee policies.
- Utilization of proper equipment and food cooling procedures.
- Creation of a food temperature log
- Participation by all employees in a food safety class who must pass a written exam as well as demonstrate knowledge regarding proper food safety practices/procedures
- Submission of a written request for re-inspection.
“The caterer operates under two separate locations and licenses. One location (All Seasons Catering, 2800 N. Elizabeth Street) is closed and the other location (Harts Cafe/All Seasons Events Catering, 112 W. 2nd Street) is under careful investigation by the Environmental Health Division at the Health Department,” said Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods public health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department, said in a statement.