Thursday, May 15, 2014


Next time you go to a wedding - your own or someone else's - remember this blog. Weddings can be dangerous for your health. Why? Because the food served is much more likely to be contaminated than the food prepared in your home. In other words, the risks of getting a case of food poisoning are pretty high.

The guests who attended a wedding last month in Missouri in the United States, are unfortunately very aware of this fact. There were some 750 people present, and of those, around 300 came down with food poisoning. And it happened so quickly - within hours of dining at the reception.

In such cases of quickly occurring symptoms that are clearly linked to a place where all the victims ate together, the natural suspect is Norovirus (also known as "The Cruise Ship Virus" because it so often crops up on cruises). However, testing did not show it to be present. After additional samples were taken from the food and the victims, and tests were done, the culprit was found to be a bacterium - Clostridium perfringens.

And which food was the contaminated one? It turned out to be the gravy, which had reportedly been cooled down too slowly, allowing maybe a very few bacteria which were in it to multiply, to the point where only a little of the gravy carried large enough numbers to make guests ill. I guess the people who escaped were those who were on a diet and decided to pass on it. I am sure they were glad afterwards.

As pointed out by The Safe Food Handbook: How to Make Smart Choices about Risky Food, mass produced food that is served at places such as weddings, as well as at conventions, parties, on cruise ships and in institutional settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools, tends to be more likely to carry bacteria or viruses for a number of reasons. The large-scale food preparation has a lot to do with it. In such situations, foods are not always evenly cooked. The fact that food has to be prepared ahead is also a factor. Sometimes, with cold storage space limited, the prepared food is not always stored at the right temperature (as could also have been to blame at the Missouri wedding). These are just some of the factors.

So did the Missouri bride and groom get food poisoning as well? I have been trying to find out, but so far, no luck. But in checking around, I did find several instances when either the bride or groom or both became ill at their own wedding. Not much fun!

To your good health,

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