Canadian caterer upset over salmonella outbreak

Ottawa Public Health has now confirmed 20 cases of salmonella, including 16 children between 15 months and 14-years-old, and four adults which they believe might have originated from The Lunch Lady Group caterer.

The owner of the Canadian company told CBC News Wednesday she is devastated by the news and called the outbreak a "mystery".

"It’s horribly painful because we love serving kids everyday," Ruthie Burd said over the phone from her home in Markham, Ont.

"We do everything we can to provide a reliable, safe service for the kids we serve."

"We have very strict guidelines for all sorts of things when it comes to food and kids," she said, "We empathize with parents in this whole situation. We really want to know what it is and what we can put in place to prevent anything."

As a parent, that doesn’t tell me much about the food safety training, standards, buying practices, personal hygiene and overall food safety culture in those kitchens.

The Lunch Lady has a blog but it hasn’t been updated since Aug., 2011. They have a statement about culture and sustainability but nothing about what is done so kids don’t barf from Lunch lady lunches. There is a statement about food safety, how it’s all government inspected and they pay attention to recall notices. Perhaps it would be more reassuring to parents if the strict food safety and quality control policies set out by The Lunch Lady Group head office were available for perusal.

Public health said 11 officials have been reassigned to deal with the salmonella outbreak, which also hospitalized three people. All have since been released.

They have their hands full, one doctor said, trying to contact families of children who may have consumed contaminated food.

"We’re talking not only to the families of ill children, but parents of well siblings or children that did not become ill," said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, who added 50 families are being interviewed regarding one daycare alone.