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October 3, 2015: Staph Food Poisoning Sickened Guests At Brewerton Wedding

Two months ago, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness caused by food poisoning sickened guests at a wedding reception that took place at the Arrowhead Lodge in Brewerton, outside of Syracuse, NY. The Onondaga County Health Cepartment has since interviewed 70 of the 100 attendees of the reception; half of those interviewed reported getting sick at the reception or afterwards, confirmed Ann Rooney, Onondaga County’s Deputy County Executive.
Bob Allen (Vice President, Communications and Governmental Affairs for Crouse Hospital) verified that six to eight guests of the wedding arrived at the Hospital’s ER at about 10 p.m. that night, reporting symptoms of vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and cramping.

According to the Post-Standard of Syracuse, the Department of Health has labratory tested samples collected from some of the approximately three dozen guests who became ill. The Department of Health reports that the results of these test came back positive for a type of food poisoning, called Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin food poisoning, also known as staph food poisoning.

Information On Staphylococcus Food Poisoning

Staph Food Poisoning is caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by a type of bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus (or “Staph”). Staphylococcal toxins are resistant to heat, and can not be destroyed by cooking or heating a contaminated food.

There are multiple ways Staphylococcus bacteria can contaminate food including cross contamination of kitchen utensils and surfaces, and most commonly through direct contact with food handlers. According to the U.S. Centers “Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium found on the skin and in the noses of up to 25% of healthy people.” If a food worker touches their nose then neglects to wash their hands before handing food, the food may become contaminated with Staph. For this reason, it is critical that food workers practice good hand hygiene and wear gloves while handling food to reduce risk.

Staphylococcus contamination is especially hard to detect because the contaminated food will not smell, taste, or look spoiled. Sliced meat, pastries, and sandwiches have been implicated in past Staphylococcus outbreaks.
For more information on food poisoning, visit

Official Statement on Food Poisoning Outbreak

Deputy County Executive Ann Rooney clarified that food vendors who cater events at Arrowhead Lodge must have a health permit and insurance. Additionally, since the cause of the outbreak has not been conclusively identified, she would not be releasing the name of the food vendor used at the wedding reception, noting that “because this was a private party, there was never any threat to the public.”


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