Local News

Officials: Eggs, not employees caused illnesses at Durham restaurant

Posted July 16, 2010 11:44 a.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2010 12:43 p.m. EDT

— Salmonella bacteria in a commercial product, not improper food handling, caused an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness among Bullock's Barbecue customers in April, the Durham County Health Department said Friday.

Sixty-five people were sickened in the outbreak, and at least seven had to be hospitalized for dehydration because of vomiting and diarrhea.

Initial tests found Salmonella bacteria in foods containing egg, and further investigation determined the likely source of the outbreak was bacteria in a commercially made egg white product the restaurant used to make meringue.

The health department found no violations of food handling practices at Bullock's, a Durham institution that serves walk-in customers and has a booming catering business.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted similar outbreaks across the country linked to pasteurized egg whites sold by the same supplier and made at the same plant as the products delivered to Bullock's officials said.

Tests conducted by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and other labs couldn't conclusively prove that the product was contaminated with Salmonella.

Bullock's immediately disposed of potentially affected desserts and other foods, officials said.