Carnitas are fried chunks of pork frequently served in Mexican-origin households, food service establishments, and social gatherings. During 1995-2002, carnitas emerged as the most frequently implicated vehicle of transmission in foodborne disease outbreaks in Chicago. Five (6%) of 90 foodborne disease outbreaks investigated and reported in Chicago during this period were linked to carnitas, and they accounted for 108 illnesses and 11 hospitalizations. The etiologic agent in four outbreaks was Salmonella, and these outbreaks accounted for 29% of the 14 Salmonella-associated foodborne disease outbreaks in Chicago during this period. Unsafe food handling practices that occurred after cooking were identified as contributing to multiple carnitas-associated outbreaks. Local health departments that serve significant Mexican-origin populations should be aware of carnitas as a potential source of foodborne disease, particularly salmonellosis.
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 02/2004; 1(2):120-4. DOI:10.1089/153531404323143648 · 2.09 Impact Factor