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article imageFood poisoning hits over 80 Ontario child protection employees

By Karen Graham     Sep 18, 2015 in Food
Brantford - Between 80 to 100 employees of the Brant Family and Children’s Services in Brantford, Ontario were sickened by a food-borne illness after attending a day-long stress management conference.
The illnesses have decimated the Brandt Family and Children's Services Agency work teams this week. Executive director Andy Koster said on Thursday that since last Friday, between 80 and 100 employees have called in sick, leaving staff scrambling to cover shifts. reports the Brantford Expositor.
“Some people have symptoms that are going on well beyond the regular time associated with food poisoning,” Koster said. “But people are working really hard to deliver our services and those who aren’t ill are doing double duty.”
The annual stress management conference was held at the St. George Arena, just north of Brantford last Friday, and a catered lunch was served. About 200 people attended the conference that featured a speaker who discussed stress management and how to deal with tough situations many child protective service professionals face.
Koster said the catered lunch featured egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad. “On Friday morning we had people calling saying ‘we’re down four people on our unit’ and people were reporting stomach pains and diarrhea," Koster added.
The Brant County Health Unit was called in, and they pulled workers from other teams to assist the infectious diseases unit which has taken the lead in the investigation said Karen Boughner, the unit’s director of health protection.
Interviews have been conducted and questionnaires have been filled out by those who were sickened and those who were still healthy. Samples of the foods eaten and stool samples from those who were the sickest have been sent off to two separate laboratories, according to Food Safety News.
Boughner said, “The reportable diseases are tested at a public health lab in Hamilton, but the less common, non-reportable ones are being tested separately at a different lab in Toronto.” She added that "we have our suspicions, but we hope to be able to identify the virus and what they ate. We may have the results back as early as tomorrow.”
Barfblog says the Health protection Unit won't identify the caterer because she may not be responsible for the food items she purchased. But as Doug Powell writes, the caterer should know better, as well as knowing her suppliers.
Koster was spared getting sick because he was busy doing other things, he said. "By the time I got to the table there was almost nothing left. I had a biscuit.”
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