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Restaurant sued over alleged food poisoning

An Evanston restaurant that provided food for a parent-teacher conferences at Haven Middle School last month has been sued by a woman who says she became ill after eating at the event.

The Evanston Health Department said last week that poor food handling practices were the apparent cause of the outbreak that left 30 people reporting stomach flu symptoms after eating food catered from Merle's BBQ Restaurant at 1727 Benson St.

Attorneys representing Beatrice Jenkins announced on their website today that they had filed suit Tuesday on her behalf in Cook County Circuit Court.

Jenkins says she was volunteering at the school during the parent-teacher conferences on Feb. 16 when she and her daughter ate barbeque pulled chicken from the restaurant.

The suit claims both Jenkins and her daughter became ill with severe gastrointestinal illness and were treated at the emergency room at Evanston Hospital.

The health department said test results indicated that the chicken was contaminated with Clostridium perfrigens, a bacteria that grows when food is not kept warm enough or chilled properly.

"This was an entirely avoidable outbreak, had proper food safety precautions been employed by Merle's," said Jenkin's attorney, Drew Falkenstein.

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