Brunswick stew sickens people at church BBQ event in Cabarrus County

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Health officials said they know what caused hundreds of people to get sick after a church barbeque in Concord.

Cabarrus County Health Alliance officials said they were investigating hundreds of reports of illness after the Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church barbecue earlier this month.

Officials said the Brunswick stew tested positive for a strain of food poisoning.

Officials initially said they knew of at least 13 people who were ill, but that number rose to nearly 300.


We have some preliminary results to share. 

From the enumeration culture on the four food samples (bbq pork, Brunswick stew, cole slaw and bbq sauce) for B. cereus, C. perfringens and S. aureus.

 The Brunswick stew grew C. perfringens at more than 10^6 CFU/g. All other foods tested negative. The isolates that grew from the Brunswick stew tested positive for the C. perfringens enterotoxin gene, cpe gene, by PCR. The enumeration result confirms the etiology as C. perfringens.

They plan to test the stools next week for CPE and hopefully have final reports the week after. Still, advising no one eat the other foods due to possibility of cross contamination. 

Officials said these are initial results and they will be performing more tests. They are advising the public not to eat the other foods due to the possibility of cross contamination.

Those who were ill were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

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“We are encouraging anyone who ate at the church barbeque on Nov. 1, 2018, to throw away any food they may have taken home with them,” said Erin Shoe, chief operating officer at CHA.

Cabarrus County health officials said they had received about 200 emails from people stating they got sick after attending the barbecue.

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Officials with the Health Alliance said, "They can figure out more specifically what happened and what were people eating and when did they eat it and kind of an overall timeline."

The church has hosted the annual barbecue for more than 70 years and sources told Channel 9 this is the first time it has seen any illness or issues.

Community members told Channel 9 that they will always stand by the church.

Charlotte Campbell said the event is always a family event, but after eating a serving of the barbecue, slaw and Brunswick stew, she said she and other family members got sick.

"Cramping of the stomach; I didn't vomit, but my sister did," Campbell said.

Campbell said she did not go to the doctor.

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Channel 9 also spoke with people who said they worked at the barbecue event. They said they never ate the food, but still got sick.

"I never did take a break or eat any of the food and then when I got home, I took a shower and about 10 minutes later, my stomach started cramping," church member Robert Shoe said.

Officials are asking anyone who ate at the barbecue to email their name and contact information to



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