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Outbreak News

Salmonella outbreak traced to bad turkey

Old South eatery plans to reopen after food safety training, reinspection

Kristy Eppley Rupon, Staff writer

Undercooked turkey was the likely cause of a salmonella outbreak in Camden two weeks ago that has been linked to one death and more than 300 illnesses, state health officials said Friday.

Their findings are based on results from lab tests of food specimens and patient samples investigators collected after diners at Old South Restaurant on DeKalb Street in Camden complained of symptoms related to food-borne illness.

The Old South restaurant’s owners plan to reopen June 10 after retraining employees in safe food preparation and a reinspection by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, according to Missy Reese, spokeswoman for DHEC’s Wateree Health District.

“The restaurant would like to reopen on Friday, June 10,” Reese said. “It all depends on what happens next week.”

Jeff Hatfield, who identified himself as one of Old South’s owners, said the family will make its statements about the food-poisoning episode through a representative Monday at 1 p.m. at the restaurant in Camden.

“It’s basically been pretty devastating to the entire family,” Hatfield said Friday. “We have been praying for everyone who is in the hospital and the (James) Arledge family.”

Officials say Arledge, 58 of Lugoff, died from complications related to salmonella.

Hatfield said the owners “haven’t been out in public much” since the salmonella outbreak that apparently began May 19. However, he said the owning family, whom he identified as a father and two sons, had heard from many friends who offered support and prayers.

Reese said half a dozen key food-preparation employees Wednesday will undergo ServSafe training, a course that is designed to educate food servers about general food safety principles and hazard analysis concepts. Thursday, DHEC will reinspect the restaurant and conduct required risk-assessment training for all staff, Reese said.

As long as all requirements are met, “they certainly would be allowed to reopen,” Reese said.

“We want to do this,” Hatfield said of the training. “It’s the right thing to do.”

DHEC has not ruled out cross-contamination of other foods that might have contributed to the illnesses, according to Jerry Gibson, state epidemiologist and director of DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control.

Also, an electrician called in by the restaurant’s owners found two elements in a convection oven that were not working properly, Reese said. It is not clear if the equipment contributed to the outbreak.

This is the largest food-borne illness incident DHEC has investigated. As of midday Friday, 304 people had reported symptoms due to the outbreak and 56 people had been hospitalized. The May 22 death of Arledge also has been attributed to complications from a salmonella-related blood infection.

To date, one lawsuit has been filed in connection with the incident.

Harry Gastrich of New Richmond, Ohio, who said he became sick after eating at the restaurant May 22 while celebrating his grandson’s graduation, filed a lawsuit with the Kershaw County clerk of court on Wednesday seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

Staff writer Roddie Burris contributed. Reach Rupon at (803) 771-8622 or krupon@thestate.com.

More on this outbreak: Old South Restaurant Salmonella Outbreak

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