Clostridium Perfringens

Image from CDC

Franklin County health officials estimate that more than 300 people got food poisoning from gravy that was served at a recent wedding event.

Tests of food and stool samples came back positive for Clostridium perfringens, said Tony Buel, epidemiology specialist with the Franklin County Health Department.

About 100 people made reports to the county health department concerning the food poisoning. Some said they were aware of others who got sick, and it was estimated that more than 300 were affected.

About 750 people attended the April 5 wedding event at the Sullivan Eagles Hall, Buel said.

Hours after the wedding event people woke up experiencing symptoms of abdominal cramps and diarrhea, Buel said. Symptoms can last 24 hours.

Buel said the problem occurred when it took too long to cool the gravy down. That can cause bacteria growth and put toxins in food, he added.

Health officials inspected the catering facility, which, Buel said, was clean. The caterer handled another event the same day and no food poisoning happened.

The caterer was not penalized but was educated about the proper cooking process, Buel said.

Buel said he did not want to release the name of the caterer because it could harm the business. He said he would have to check with the county attorney to see if the name of the caterer could be released.

Buel said he cannot recall another food poisoning incident in his 11 years with the health department that affected so many people.

The state health lab tested the food and stool samples for Norovirus, which came back negative. The state lab then forwarded the samples for further testing to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, which confirmed the presence of Clostridium perfringens.

A state health department inspector assisted the county health department inspector in inspecting the caterer’s facility.