The bacteria Clostridium perfringens has been fingered to be the possible cause of massive food poisoning at the Ramsey County Jail in Minnesota. About 137 jail inmates became terribly sick after consuming food served by the prison.

A holding room in the former Adult Detention Center in St. Paul on Friday, May 29, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Holly Peterson)

A holding room in the former Adult Detention Center in St. Paul on Friday, May 29, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Holly Peterson)

Many of the affected inmates complained of stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

The Minnesota Department of Health and St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health were promptly alerted to the incident. State health officials subsequently mobilized to perform a series of tests on food samples.

Ultimately, the bacteria clostridium perfringens was discovered in samples of rice and tamale pie earlier served to the inmates.

What is Clostridium Perfringens?

Foodborne disease epidemiologist, Amy Saupe, revealed that the bacteria clostridium perfringens occurs naturally in the environment all around us. It can infect food if is not handled hygienically in terms of time and temperature.

Saupe disclosed that the clostridium perfringens contamination was detected in the tamale pie served for lunch and dinner to the inmates.

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This, she said, resulted in bacteria intoxication. She says that the clostridium perfringens enterotoxin found in the food samples was likely the cause of the massive food poisoning.

The epidemiologist added that the conclusion of the bacteria contamination tallies with the results of other findings carried out at the prison facility.

Inside the Ramsey County Jail, 137 inmates were victims of food poisoning.

Inside the Ramsey County Jail, 137 inmates were victims of food poisoning.

Contracted Food Supplier Responds Food Poisoning in Ramsey County Jail

Summit Food Service was contracted by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office to supply food to the jail. They also serve food to inmates at the facility.

Doug Warner, Summit Food Service spokesman, noted that his company takes the issue of food safety very seriously.

He added that although such outbreaks have not been reported at other jails, their food service operations strictly comply with priority standards, noting:

“While food has not been conclusively identified as the source of the symptoms at Ramsey County jail, we take these issues very seriously, and have been working closely with the health department and our client,” Warner said.

County spokesman John Siqveland, noted that an environmental health assessment is currently underway at the jail.

He assured that public health officials will strongly address prison food safety issues and create interventions to prevent future illness at the county jail.

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.