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Tainted guinea pig meat sold at Mpls. festival suspected in salmonella outbreak

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Tainted guinea pig meat is suspected after 81 people were hospitalized with salmonella poisoning after a street festival in Minneapolis earlier this month, the Star Tribune reports.

A city spokesman says the vendor had a city permit, but sold unapproved food and handled it improperly during an Ecuadorean Independence Day celebration at New York Plaza on Aug. 11.

The Star Tribune says dozen of people with severe gastrointestinal symptoms went to Hennepin County Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Minneapolis after eating the tainted food.

A spokesman with the Hennepin County Public Health Office said some -- but not all -- of those sickened at a traditional Ecuadorean dish that contained guinea pig. All who were sickened were treated and released, officials say.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has taken samples of several food products sold at the festival to sample to help pinpoint the cause of the contamination.

While the consumption of Guinea pig meat may be unfamiliar to most Americans, the demand of the delicacy in on the rise, NPR reports.

NPR says that South American restaurants on both coasts appear to be pushing the Guinea pig meat trend, and Andean experts say it is a fine and valuable food in Ecuador, Peru and Columbia.

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