Chicago food festival crowned with salmonella desease

Eating is not only a pleasure… More than 120 people who ate from the same booth at the Taste of Chicago food festival last week became ill, at least nine of them with salmonella poisoning and 10 who were hospitalized, the health department said.

The Chicago Department of Health was investigating the cases and confirmed Thursday that nine were caused by salmonella bacteria. The number could increase because lab results are pending in some of the cases.

The 126 people all ate at the Pars Cove Persian Cuisine booth, which served cucumber salad over hummus, grilled lamb and beef, pomegranate barbecued chicken and baklava.

It was the first confirmed outbreak of a food-borne illness associated with the Taste of Chicago in at least 20 years, the health department said in a release. The 10-day outdoor festival, which ended Sunday, brings out food from more than 70 restaurants and concerts.

Mike Bambouyani, manager of Pars Cove, said the restaurant is cooperating with health officials to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Officials inspected the restaurant and were interviewing and testing restaurant workers who handle food. The bacteria could have been transmitted by food handlers or could have come from a food ingredient, officials said.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.