(Dec. 19) A November foodborne illness outbreak in Manchester, N.H., has been tied to a caterer’s poor vegetable-washing practices and food-heating techniques.

Tim Soucy, the city’s public health director, said the caterer, Rachel’s Commissary, Manchester, served soups and stews to about 130 public service employees at a lunch event on Nov. 8.

Seventy people reported experiencing diarrhea or abdominal cramps within 24 hours of the event, according to a health department report. The department reported there was one confirmed case and 69 probable cases of gastroenteritis.

The dishes contained potatoes that had not been washed well or peeled, Soucy said. The caterer also failed to heat them to a high enough temperature to kill Clostridium perfringens spores, which are commonly found on potato skins and are ubiquitous in soil, Soucy said.

“There were time and temperature abuses that enabled the spores to generate and produce the bacteria,” Soucy said.

The potatoes were sourced from a local produce company that many foodservice businesses in the area use, Soucy said. There was no reason to suspect that the potatoes had an unusual level of spores or that the supplier did anything wrong, he said.