The City of Evanston said was the source of a recent food borne illness outbreak that caused 30 people to get sick.
The Evanston restaurant was catering parent/teacher conferences at Haven Middle School on Feb. 16, and people reported falling ill shortly after. The Evanston Health Department investigated the incident and concluded that poor handling of the food was the likely cause of the outbreak.
“The outcome of the investigation revealed unsafe food handling and temperature storage at both Merle’s BBQ Restaurant and Haven Middle School and it is therefore unlikely that the exact cause of the outbreak will be determined,” said Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas.
It was reported in a city press release that samples of food from the conferences were sent to the llinois Department of Public Health Laboratory in Springfield for testing. Health inspectors were also sent to Merle’s Smokehouse to collect food samples and perform an inspection of the restaurant's food handling, storage and transportation.
"Results of the test indicated Clostridium perfrigens as the causative agent," the release said.
Clostridium perfrigens are toxins that cause food poisoning. The Illinois Department of Public Health says symptoms associated with consuming the toxin includes stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.
The health department confirmed that the bacteria came from barbecue pulled chicken that was prepared at the restaurant and served "buffet style" at the school.
"No temperatures were taken at the time of delivery and the food was not kept heated or refrigerated during the time it was being served," the city said.
The city said it is working with the restaurant and the school to prevent a similar occurrence from happening again.