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Taste of Chicago Pars Cove Booth Serves up “Salmonella Salad” as Hundreds Report Food Poisoning

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A new outbreak of Salmonella Poisoning in Chicago has been tied to the shirazi salad served at the popular Taste of Chicago Food Festival. At least 378 people who ate the shirazi salad at the Pars Cove food booth during the Taste of Chicago food festival have become ill, and 12 have been hospitalized. The Chicago Health Department is investigating, and so far has confirmed that over 225 of the cases are in fact Salmonella. That number will likely increase, as other tests are pending.

Pars Cove, a popular Persian restaurant, ran a booth at the festival that served a variety of Middle Eastern dishes like grilled lamb and beef, baklava and a dip made with chickpeas called hummus. Shirazi is a salad made from fresh herbs, tomato and cucumber that is served with hummus. The Chicago Health Department confirmed on Friday that the shirazi was the source of the Salmonella outbreak that resulted in hundreds of people reporting food poisoning, although they have not yet determined how the salad became contaminated.

Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis

The Taste of Chicago outbreak is only the latest in a string of Salmonella poisoning cases to plague the country this year. In February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter after those popular brands were found to be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. So far, more than 600 cases of Salmonella poisoning have been tied to the contaminated peanut butter. The source of the contamination was traced to a ConAgra Foods factory in Sylvester, Georgia.

In June, the FDA ordered a recall of Veggie Booty Snack Mix, a popular children’s treat, after more than 50 people became ill with Salmonella poisoning. Robert’s Gourmet American Foods, the Long Island Company that makes the snack, has said that seasonings imported from China were to blame for the contamination, but the FDA is still investigating.

The Chicago Health Department said that the Pars Cove outbreak was the first time in 20 years that Salmonella contamination had been linked to the Taste of Chicago Festival. The 10-day event brings together 70 of the city’s most popular restaurants and includes concerts and other performances. As a precaution, the Health Department has ordered the Pars Cove Restaurant not to serve hummus or shirazi while it investigates the salmonella outbreak.

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