The UTC Salmonella and Campylobacter outbreak associated with dining facilities on the Chattanooga, Tennessee, campus has subsided to the point where the all-you-can-eat Crossroads Cafeteria has returned chicken to its menu, a school official said. Public health investigators for Hamilton County are still investigating the outbreak, which sickened upwards of two dozen students and staff, but preliminary reports have found evidence that points to contaminated chicken as the possible source of illness.
Food Poisoning Bulletin previously reported that most people sickened in the outbreak contracted their infections around August 20-22. No deaths have been reported, but health officials say some who ate campus food were stricken with Campylobacter while others were stricken with Salmonella. Both organisms are human pathogens that have long been associated with food poisoning from chicken and other poultry.
Just two months ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its final Salmonella outbreak report on a large, multi-state Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms brand chicken. Investigators confirmed a case count of 134 people sickened in 13 states, including 33 who were hospitalized. Testing conducted in that outbreak identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg in four intact samples of chicken collected from three ill persons’ homes in Washington, which were traced back to two Foster Farms slaughter establishments.
The UTC investigation has not been as successful in pinpointing the cause, but school officials were informed that chicken was a likely source. According to a memo to staff from Chancellor Roger Brown: “The Health Department has informed us that these results are suggestive of a chicken product but it is uncertain at this time.” The memo, obtainted by Chattanoogan.com, also said the campus food service, Aramark, temporarily pulled chicken from the menu at Crossroads as a precaution. The memo also said Aramark has been in communication with its food suppliers about quality.