85 confirmed with Salmonella at Western, frustration increasing

The Middlesex-London Health Unit reports that the number of people confirmed with salmonella food poisoning at the University of Western Ontario jumped by eight bringing the official toll to 85, with dozens of others suspected.

At least five students have been hospitalized from the illness.

Competing letters in the Western student paper, the Gazette, provide a glimpse of the growing frustration.

Mark Lepore says 85 confirmed sick people is no biggie:

"As with every food operation, there is always a risk of contamination. While measures are taken to prevent this — and Western is pretty strict — it is bound to happen eventually. …

"Yes, people were made sick and suffered discomfort, but before criticizing the first salmonella outbreak in 25 years, try looking around your own house for sanitation problems."

Susan Varills, has a less complacent view, saying she was "shocked and dismayed" by comments made by Susan Grindrod, vice-president housing and ancillary services at Western, in a Nov. 23 story,

"This is the first [salmonella contamination] we’ve had in 25 years. … We serve 30,000 people per week, and while it’s nice to have sanitary practices, there’s no 150 per cent guarantee.”

As a former cook, Varills asks,

"… is she kidding? First of all, having sanitary practices at a public food service establishment isn’t supposed to be “nice” – it’s supposed to be mandatory. After all, it is the law to ensure the food you prepare and serve is not contaminated.

"If a regular restaurant had such a contamination with so many confirmed cases, they would not only face closure, but I’m sure such a restaurant would face a number of lawsuits.

"The high level of traffic through Food Services is no excuse to become lax on sanitary practices; instead, the opposite should be true!"