November 14, 2019

Clostridium Perfringens Likely Cause of Ramsey County Jail Outbreak

The outbreak at the Ramsey County jail last month was likely caused by Clostridium perfringens bacteria, Doug Schultz of the Minnesota Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin.  That outbreak, which occurred on September 9, 2017, sickened 137 inmates at the St. Paul jail.

Clostridium Perfringens Bacteria

Nurses treated inmates at the jail. No one was hospitalized in this outbreak.

Sample trays of food that were served for lunch and dinner on that day were tested for pathogenic bacteria. Clostridium perfringens was found in a sample of rice and in tamale pie.

C. perfringens causes food poisoning when foods are not properly reheated or are held at a dangerous temperature for a long period of time. Outbreaks usually occur in restaurant and institutional settings, where large containers of food are prepared, held, and reheated.

The bacteria produces an enterotoxin as it grows in food. The symptoms of Clostridium perfringens food poisoning include diarrhea and abdominal cramps Most people get sick within a few hours after eating food contaminated with the toxin. Most people recover within 24 hours without medical intervention.

This bacteria causes about 1,000,000 cases of food poisoning every year in this country. The foods that are associated with this bacteria include beef, poultry, pre-cooked foods such as rice, and gravy.

To prevent this type of food poisoning, it’s important that cooks and chefs know that foods should be cooked to safe final internal temperatures, and held above 140°F or below 40°F. That danger zone in between those two temps is conducive to bacterial growth. Large containers of food, such as rice or gravy, can get too cool or too warm in the center, and that’s when the bacteria starts growing and producing the toxin.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully helps and represents people hurt by adulterated foods in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for foodborne illness patients and their families, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes the E-news site, Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected Google News source for food safety news and information.  Pritzker Hageman lawyers are often interviewed as experts on the topic by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infections, and product liability cases.

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