Jean Cole of the News Courier reports today: “Health Dept.:  Beans soaked in horse trough – Dozens taken ill after annual event.”

Salmonella outbreak confirmed at annual Bean Day dinner hosted by the Foundation on Aging at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Athens, Alabama.

A nine-page study issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health and obtained Friday by The News Courier reveals that uncooked beans for the annual fundraiser had been soaked in a plastic-lined horse trough covered with plywood before the event and that existing bean soup was topped off with new bean soup during the event.  Those are just some of the possible ways the beans became contaminated with Salmonella senftenberg, according to the report.

An estimated 250 to 300 people ate food prepared for the Oct. 4 dinner hosted by the Athens-Limestone Foundation for Aging and held at First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Athens. The menu included white beans with ham, onions, vinegar-based coleslaw, cornbread, soft drinks and a variety of homemade desserts.  About 50 people reported falling ill following the event, though some may never have reported their illness.

Salmonella senftenberg was isolated “in two environmental samples obtained from the church, nine food samples and all stool specimens,” according to the report. “The two positive environmental samples were from environment swabs of a dirty strainer and the double sink floor drain at the church.”