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Taste of Chicago Salmonella Food Poisoning Cases Continue to Rise

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Salmonella food poisoning cases related to the salad served by Pars Cove at the Taste of Chicago food festival has risen to 717 as of noon on Friday, according to a press release from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

At least 116 people who ate the salad at the Pars Cove booth at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival have been diagnosed with salmonellosis, an infection caused by salmonella bacteria that usually causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. There were 97 reported cases of salmonellosis as of Thursday afternoon.

3 more people were hospitalized for the salmonella infection caused by the salad at the Taste of Chicago Pars Cove booth, bringing the total number of hospitalized individuals to 31. The 717 cases of food poisoning reported by attendees of the Taste of Chicago Food Festival had risen from 696 on Thursday.

Pars Cove, a Persian restaurant that describes itself on its Web site as “the place where health and cost consciousness meet”, served up a tainted salad at the Taste of Chicago Food Festival that has been linked to the salmonella outbreak. The dish, called a Shirazi Salad contains “diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and herbs in a fresh lemon virgin olive oil,” according to the online version of Pars Cove’s menu. Previous reports indicated that hummus was also served with the salad and could have been a potential source of the salmonella.

Health officials have yet to pinpoint the exact source of the salmonella bacteria, but have thoroughly inspected Pars Cove Restaurant and administered stool tests for the presence of salmonella to all employees, the Department of Health said last week.

Despite the fact the number of confirmed salmonellosis cases had risen by almost 20% in the last 24 hours, the Department of Public Health said in the press release that the number of new cases of food poisoning has been “tapering off as expected.” One week earlier, when the number of food poisoning cases associated with the Pars Cove booth was at just 378, officials had noted that the “volume of calls is starting to taper off”.

The widely popular Taste of Chicago Food Festival, held outdoors at Chicago’s Grant Park, ran from June 29 to July 8. The Department of Public Health calls the festival “the most intensely regulated food operation in the city.” City inspectors detail each of the over 70 food booths at least four times each day, according to the department.

But the tainted shirazi salad slipped by inspectors at the Pars Cove booth, and the restaurant served the food for the duration of the Taste of Chicago festival. The department first acknowledged a “handful” of cases of salmonellosis in a July 11 press release. The slip is just the latest of worries plaguing American consumers as more and more food seems to be contaminated, tainted, and recalled every day.

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