While you might see a guinea pig and think, “Oh, I used to have one of those as a pet and it made funny grunting sounds,” there are plenty of people who see a guinea pig and think, “Mmm, dinner.” Health officials in Minnesota say 81 of the latter kind of people were felled by tainted guinea pig meat and other food at a street fair this month in big case of suspected salmonella poisoning.
According to the Star Tribune, a spokesman for the city of Minneapolis said the street vendor had a permit but sold unapproved food and handled it improperly. The guinea pig blowback all started during an Ecuadorean celebration earlier this month, after which a whole lot of people went to the hospital with severe gastrointestinal symptoms after dining on tainted food.
A county public health spokesman said it wasn’t only the guinea pig that started the stomach-clutching epidemic, however.
“It was most likely a bad food item or items being poorly handled,” he said. “The diseased organism that originated somewhere got spread to other food items by cross-contamination.”
Officials are still doing research to figure out the exact cause of the contamination to see whether it started with the guinea pigs and spread elsewhere or vice versa.
I prefer guinea pigs’ cousins, the hamster, on a piano, singin’ sweet tunez: