Minneapolis salmonella outbreak in August tied to guinea pig slaughter

  • Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 9, 2013 - 5:52 AM

Market owner is cited for wrongly obtaining animals, killing them, then selling the meat at an August festival.

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The Minneapolis market linked to a salmonella outbreak in August obtained guinea pigs from an unlicensed supplier and slaughtered them in a back room, according to a city inspection report.

Nieves Riera, owner of New York Plaza Produce at 1304 E. Lake St., was issued a $1,000 citation on Oct. 1 for five violations uncovered by city inspectors after the Ecuadorian Independence Festival. At the Aug. 11 event, more than 80 people fell ill after eating salmonella-tainted food that Riera served, including guinea pig meat, officials said.

The city report rated three of the violations as “critical”: one pertaining to cooking food at an unlicensed facility and two related to the guinea pigs.

“Nieves Riera obtained guinea pigs from an unlicensed supplier. The guinea pigs were sold at the Ecuadorian Festival,” the code compliance officer, Kathy Louden, noted in the inspection report. “Cooked pork was purchased from a Minneapolis meat market. The pork was resold at the Ecuadorian festival. The source of the pork is not an approved wholesaler.”

According to the report, Riera stated that she slaughtered the guinea pigs in a back area of the market. “This is not a slaughter house and live animals are not allowed on the premises,” the report says.

Riera must pay the $1,000 fine by Oct. 31. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The outbreak at the festival was the largest documented incident of foodborne illness at a single event in Minnesota since 167 prison inmates got sick in 2009, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which licenses the market, is still investigating the incident. No data, including previous inspection or incident data, have been released by the department.

 

Alejandra Matos • 612-673-4028

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