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Strain of food poisoning causes illness at North Carolina church barbecue

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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. – Health officials said they know what caused hundreds of people to get sick after a church barbecue in Concord.

Cabarrus County Health Alliance officials told WSOC they were investigating hundreds of reports of illness after the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church barbecue earlier this month.

Officials said the Brunswick stew tested positive for a strain of food poisoning.

Officials initially said they knew of at least 13 people who were ill, but that number rose to nearly 300.

Cabarrus Health Alliance released the following statement:

We have some preliminary results to share.

From the enumeration culture on the four food samples (bbq pork, Brunswick stew, cole slaw and bbq sauce) for B. cereus, C. perfringens and S. aureus.

The Brunswick stew grew C. perfringens at more than 10^6 CFU/g. All other foods tested negative. The isolates that grew from the Brunswick stew tested positive for the C. perfringens enterotoxin gene, cpe gene, by PCR. The enumeration result confirms the etiology as C. perfringens.

They plan to test the stools next week for CPE and hopefully have final reports the week after. Still, advising no one eat the other foods due to possibility of cross contamination.

Officials said these are initial results and they will be performing more tests. They are advising the public not to eat the other foods due to the possibility of cross contamination.

Those who were ill were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

“We are encouraging anyone who ate at the church barbecue on Nov. 1, 2018, to throw away any food they may have taken home with them,” said Erin Shoe, chief operating officer at CHA.

Cabarrus County health officials said they had received about 200 emails from people stating they got sick after attending the barbecue.

Officials with the Health Alliance said, “They can figure out more specifically what happened and what were people eating and when did they eat it and kind of an overall timeline.”

Read more: WSOC