Over 500 People Ill After Taste Of Chicago

The Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival, and for more 500 festival goers, it’s also the cause of some serious digestive distress. 17 people have been hospitalized and 529 are reporting symptoms of food poisoning, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Fifty cases have been confirmed as salmonellosis. Of the 50, 36 have been identified as salmonella heidelberg, one of the more common forms of salmonella poisoning in the United States, the release said.

Seventeen people have been hospitalized.

Officials said last week they had determined that at least one–and perhaps the only–source of the bacterial poisoning was a dish of hummus with herbs, tomato and cucumber and ordered Pars Cove to stop serving hummus while a full investigation proceeds.

The Taste of Chicago is a 10 day food festival that serves over 3 million people a year. Attention Chicago Natives: Next time your out-of-town friends want to make you attend this festival, (again), you need only to point them to this article and freedom will be yours.

More than 500 illnesses reported after Taste [Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I did not know that Chicago tastes like hummus.

  2. whereismyrobot says:

    These people ought to talk to the lady in the JoAnn’s story a couple of posts down.

  3. not_seth_brundle says:

    That is a brilliant way to get out of going to Taste, and also the story about the CTA shutting down the trains, trapping passengers for over an hour without air conditioning, after the fireworks on the 4th of July.

  4. esqdork says:

    What a change of pace to read a poisoning story that seemingly has no connection to the Chinese poison train.

  5. enm4r says:

    @not_seth_brundle: That was because a guy was about to commit suicide. But I was on the train right before it, so yeah…

    I didn’t have this dish, mostly because I was told by others that it was pretty mediocre. I guess it wasn’t the taste of mediocrity they were tasting, it was poison.

    But really, going to the Taste more than once is pretty unnecessary, especially if you’re from out of town. It’s fun to go to on the off days, try a little food, and get out, but this week year it sucked with the 4th on Wednesday. I think it’s a cool thing to go to, but not enough to be something to get people into town for.

  6. not_seth_brundle says:

    @enm4r: Wow, I hadn’t heard this update. When did they release that news–do you have a link? The stories I saw said that a CTA employee saw a spark and decided to shut down the trains.

  7. enm4r says:

    @not_seth_brundle: My bad, I’m confusing the incidents. Considering various trains were shut down THREE TIMES within a week for hours on end, it’s not unexpected.

    July 3rd: Loop are shut down after fireworks from a spring loose on a car
    July 4th: The electrical problems you were talking about
    July 7th: The suicide attempt I was thinking about

    So yeah, I was wrong, it happened a few days later.

  8. jacques says:

    It’s funny how the cases tripled after they announced the first round. Seems a bit suspicious.

    After going once to the taste, you couldn’t force me down there to buy overpriced food that tastes almost nothing like the restaurants’ real food in the midst of a sweltering crowd comprised of the most disgusting humanity. Unless they were giving away cheesecake and those palmer rainbow cones

  9. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @jacques: Not suspicious, really; people who had gotten only moderately ill after the festival heard about the salmonella and went “Oh hey, THAT’S why I felt so rotten.” They probably wouldn’t have called in otherwise.

  10. EtherealStrife says:

    Seems like it was a fairly accurate “Taste of Chicago”

  11. Chicago7 says:

    Hahaha! What you do you want to bet that there were maybe 50 cases of illness and 450 cases of “Me-too”-ness.

    I was on a bus once that got hit by a car and almost EVERYBODY on the bus was a whiplash case.

  12. nhoj1962 says:

    I thought “Hamas” was the terrorist organization.

    A few days ago I read the Chicago health department would only confirm “substantiated” cases of salmonella without divulging the means by wich they would do so. A case of the “ends” justifying the “means”?

  13. Isn’t getting sick at Chicago part of the “taste of Chicago” experience? What are they complain about?

    At least this time, it is not from “Chinese Poison Train”.

  14. not_seth_brundle says:

    @enm4r: And I think I was confusing the July 3 and the July 4 incidents. Gotta love the CTA.

  15. SisterHavana says:

    I’m just glad I passed up Pars Cove’s booth this year!

    When I worked downtown I liked going to the Taste for lunch, since it was never usually that crowded and I could try different things on different days without getting stuffed and feeling like a glutton. Of course I bought my tickets at Dominick’s the week before to avoid the $1.50 amusement fee.

  16. Havok154 says:

    I make it a point to not eat hummus, poison or not.

  17. ChrisC1234 says:

    So 500 people who went to The Taste of Chicago got to go home with The Trots From Chicago… Glad I missed it.

  18. DerrickKwan says:

    hey lets blame it on the Chinese food…

  19. rdldr1 says:

    The Pars Cove Persian restaurant is to blame for the salmonella outbreak. I live in Chicago and did go to the Taste of Chicago on four different days but skipped this booth.

    If anything, I always would be suspect of any seafood served at the Taste – never something like hummus. The Taste has had a VERY GOOD record of sanitation control until now. All of you out-of-towners out there say that its “typical for the Taste” even though you know jack s***.

    I feel that the Pars Cove should not only be BANNED from the Taste of Chicago (it gave the Taste a bad name) they should lose their restaurant license. Persian = Iranian (coincidence? i think not) On a side note, the CTA should burn in hell.

  20. Meikah Delid says:

    Food that is exposed is often vulnerable to spoilage. That’s why it’s better to be careful when going to food festivals. I don’t think the organizers like this to happen.

  21. enm4r says:

    @rdldr1: Persian = Iranian (coincidence? i think not)

    I don’t get it, unless you think Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally asked Pars Cove to poison all the good Americans at this food festival…in which case I ask why you were given access to the internet.

  22. NickRB says:

    .000016 people got sick. .00000017 people were hospitalized. Those are pretty good odds. I think I’ll continue to attend.

  23. B says:

    With street vendors, there’s no place for the vendors to wash their hands or utensils, so it’s not at all surprising that people would get sick.

  24. humphrmi says:

    @B: They aren’t street vendors. They are local restaurants set up in Grant Park for a food festival. They are provided with (for a charge) or are required to provide their own facilities to wash their hands and utensils.

  25. ancientsociety says:

    As a resident of Chicago, I hate the “Taste Of Chicago”. It’s a tourist trap that attracts hundreds of thousands of suburbanites and tourists (which our horibble, inefficient public transit cannot handle) who come to gorge themselves on overpriced street fair food, which is nothing like what the actual restaurant serves.

  26. theWolf says:

    Just when I thought there were no more reasons to avoid the Taste Of Chicago…

  27. rdldr1 says:


    I forgot to put on my {sarcasm} {/sarcasm} tags on that last line.

    Hey where else can you order a turkey leg smothered in barbecue sauce? Anyways, I usually order the same things at the Taste since its pretty much the same every year. I could see why people avoid this crowded, overpriced tourist trap (just like any sports event!)- but the Taste has an excellent track record when it comes to sanitation with sole exception of Pars Cove.

    Here’s some unconfirmed first hand accounts of what the Pars Cove “victims” suffered due to salmonella poisoning.


  28. zibby says:

    Yeah, I had some of them fava beans, got me awful sick there, Charlie.

  29. crossn81 says:

    shoot.. we were there and my wife was sick off and on since then… hmmm… we also had to wait an hour and a half to get out of the parking garage.. ugh,

    not to mention the wall to wall crowd, that would have made me sick if I was clastraphobic

  30. swalve says:

    People are notoriously unable to determine for themselves what caused food poisoning, and the difference between bad choices and actual poisoning. “Uh, yeah, I just ate four pounds of grease and salt and got the hot-poops. It must be bird flu!”

    That said, who the hell thinks July is a good month for an outdoor food festival? It is a disgusting sea of sweatty humanity eating deep fried turkey legs.

  31. humphrmi says:


    It is a disgusting sea of sweatty humanity eating deep fried turkey legs.

    You just described Disney World in July.