Brunswick stew poisoned nearly 300 at NC church barbecue

Bacteria in Brunswick stew poisoned nearly 300 people at a popular North Carolina church barbecue, health officials said in a statement Friday.

The bacteria — C. perfringens — “is a common cause for food poisoning and infection” that commonly develops “when foods are prepared in large quantities and kept warm for a long time before serving,” according to the Cabarrus Health Alliance statement.

That’s what happened Nov. 1 at the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church BBQ in Kannapolis, the statement said.

Health officials also tested barbecue pork, cole slaw and barbecue sauce served at the event, but only the Brunswick stew cultures revealed the presence of the sickening bacteria, according to the statement.

In a Nov. 5 statement, Cabarrus Health Alliance said it had received “over 200 emails reporting for 468 people. Of those, 62% reported being ill and 38% reported no symptoms.” That percentage of reported illnesses totals 290 people.

On Nov. 7, the alliance sent “food and fecal samples” to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and N.C. public health labs, according to the alliance’s website.

Discard all leftovers still in your fridge or freezer from the barbecue event “due to risk of cross-contamination,” the Cabarrus Health Alliance statement said.

“People infected with C. perfringens develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours (typically 8 to 12 hours),” the Cabarrus Health Alliance statement said. “The illness usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours.”


ecoli-cdc (2)

Escherichia coli are bacteria found in the environment, foods and intestines of people and animals.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak