Organizers of the Athens Bean Day Event, at which dozens of people became ill and which the state health department cites as the source of a salmonella outbreak, said they disagree with some findings of the department's report of the outbreak.
Helen Carter, President of the Athens-Limestone Foundation for Aging, which hosted the event, released a statement on Monday (PDF), in which she disagrees with portions of the report. She is upset her organization had to call the state to receive a copy of the ADPH report, despite the local newspaper having it last week.
Carter said in the statement the horse trough identified as one of six potential sources of cross-contamination responsible for the food contamination was borrowed from a local business. She said it was brand new, and this has been the process by which the beans have been prepared for the last 15 years.
No horses used the trough before it was used for soaking the beans, Carter continued. She said there are only so many things that can hold the 250 pounds of beans they must cook.
She said everybody was given gloves and were wearing them as far as she saw. She said she is not sure why the report said they didn't.
Carter said they served around 850 people, and not the 250-300 the report said. In her statement, Carter said, "Our board is dedicated to helping the community. The board certainly did not intend for an outbreak to occur. Without knowing the exact cause of the contamination, it is difficult to address what could have been done to prevent it."
The report from the state health department could not pinpoint what caused the contamination, but cited the beans and other foods as testing positive for salmonella.
She said the board has debated whether or not they'll have a 16th-Annual Bean Day in 2014 and has not come to a decision at this time.
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