Food poisoning sickens 80-100 child protection employees in Brantford (Canada)

I remember Brantford, Ontario, Canada, where I grew up, but I’m not sure Brantford wants to remember me.

massey.fergusonWayne Gretzky, Massey-Ferguson, the telephone (my dad may be in this pic, he was head of quality control at the Brantford plant that made combines for the world, and I was always proud of that).

But that’s another discussion, and this is a food safety blog.

So it pains me to write that the good folk of Brantford, all 94,000 and where my parents still live, had more than 80 child protection employees sickened by food poisoning last week, a situation that has decimated working teams at the Brant Family and Children’s Services agency.

Executive director Andy Koster said Thursday staff at the agency has been scrambling to help cover shifts after between 80-100 workers called in sick, beginning last Friday.

“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.”

Koster said staff at the agency plans a once-a-year getaway event where all staff take part. A professional speaker addressed issues of stress management and dealing with the trauma many child protection workers face. This year’s event was held at the St. George Arena and a professional caterer was hired to feed the 200-plus people at the day-long conference. Koster said egg salad wraps, chicken wraps and potato salad were all on the menu for lunch.

“On Friday morning we had people calling saying ‘we’re down four people on our unit’ and people were reporting stomach pains and diarrhea.”

gretzkyWorkers continued to call in sick, although Koster said some employees, knowing their colleagues were more ill, came to work.

Bad idea.

Maybe get a food safety type next year. Not me, but someone who can credibly address food safety issues (without the baggage). Chapman? He’s a Port Hope

Karen Boughner, the unit’s director of health protection said the unit will not identify the caterer at this point, noting the problem may have been totally out of her hands if it was a contaminated product she purchased for the event.

Except caterers should know better, and know their suppliers.

Boughner said the situation wasn’t made public sooner because it didn’t affect the general public.

That’s just embarrassing.