PEI church dinner suspect as 160 sickened

At least 160 people became ill following a weekend church supper in Malpeque, Prince Edward Island (that’s in Canada).

The Charlottetown Guardian reports the province’s Health Department must wait "several days” before receiving lab results to help pinpoint the exact cause.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Lamont Sweet says all indications are the cause of the wide spread illness was foodborne. However, the ongoing investigation has yet to determine if a virus or bacteria is responsible.

Sweet says the illnesses, mainly diarrhea but also some cases of abdominal pain and nausea, appear linked to the 500 meals that were sold Saturday at Princetown United Church, most as takeout dinners. Many were ill for only a few hours but others reported being sick for 24 hours or longer, he said.

If this outbreak of illness proves to be food-borne, this will mark only the third time in the past 22 years that community meals have resulted in food-borne illness on P.E.I.

Any remaining food purchased from the church on the weekend should be tossed out, he added.

The meal was roast beef, vegetables, rolls and desserts. A portion of the meal was prepared on site and some of the items, including desserts, were brought into the venue.