Die Hard Catering disputes Metro Health's report into SAHA holiday dinner

Attorneys: 'Unfair to assume source of bacteria was from catering company'


SAN ANTONIO – Die Hard Catering on Tuesday disputed a report from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District that blamed the caterers for serving contaminated food at a San Antonio Housing Authority holiday dinner at which dozens of people became ill.

On Jan. 13, the Metro Health District released a statement saying that its investigation revealed that the organism most likely responsible for the illnesses was Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that produces toxins, which causes gastrointestinal illness if you eat contaminated foods.

Epidemiologists interviewed 110 people who attended the 19th Annual Golden Gala at Freeman Coliseum on Dec. 16. Of those interviewed, 60 percent got sick, Metro Health said. A family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with the incident and is seeking $1 million from Die Hard Catering.

But according to a statment from the catering company, the Metro Health report "does not provide conclusive evidence of the source, only that staph is most likely responsible based on the rapid onset of symptoms and the short duration of the illnesses. Staph can originate from multiple sources. No signs of Staphylococcus aureus were identified at Die Hard Catering’s kitchen where the food was prepared.

"At this time, with the very limited information that has been provided, it would be unfair to assume the source of the bacteria was from the catering company," the statement said.

Attorneys for Die Hard Catering have tried to contact Metro Health and SAHA regarding the probe, but haven't heard back from them, the statement said.

Die Hard Catering pointed out that its food establishment inspections have been stellar. Prior to the gala, the company scored a 92 out of 100 in an August 2016 inspection, the statement said. Prior to the inspection, the company was inspected nine times, with most of the inspections resulting in a perfect score, the company said.

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