Mother's Day food poisoning linked to common bacterium

May 25, 2012 5:36:23 AM PDT
The food poisoning scare that sickened 150 people at a Buddhist monastery on Mother's Day has been tracked back to a common bacterium.

Testing at a state lab in albany found the bacterium on several food samples from the event.

Many victims blamed their illness on sticky rice balls, but the lab found several types of food were contaminated with a bacterium commonly found on the skin and noses of up to 25 percent of healthy people and animals.

The bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, can cause toxins in food kept at improper temperatures. The toxins then cause food poisoning when ingested.

The department says some of the food served at the monastery in Kent Cliffs was prepared elsewhere and held at improper temperatures.

It says linking the bacterium to any particular dish may be impossible because samples were collected after the event was over and many foods were similar.

The department says five victims were hospitalized. All have been discharged.

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