In January 2011, multiple acute gastroenteritis outbreaks that spanned many days and were related to attendance at funerals were reported to public health units in Quebec. An epidemiological investigation was initiated to identify the source of the contamination and to explain the extent of the contamination over time. Thirty-one cohorts of individuals attended different funerals held between 14 and 19 January. All attendees were served a cold buffet made by the same caterer. Of these 31 cohorts, 16 (with a total of about 800 people) contained individuals who reported being ill after the funeral. Symptoms were mainly diarrhea (89 to 94% of individuals), vomiting (63 to 90%,) and fever (26 to 39%), with a median incubation period of 29 to 33 h and a median duration of symptoms of 24 to 33 h, suggesting norovirus-like infection. Among the 16 cohorts, 3 were selected for cohort studies. Among those three cohorts, the mean illness rate was 68%. Associations were found between those who fell ill and those who had consumed pasta salad (relative risk [RR] = 2.4; P = 0.0022) and ham sandwiches (RR = 1.8; P = 0.0096). No food handlers reported being sick. No stool samples were provided by individuals who became ill. Environmental and food samples were all negative for causative agents. Although the causative agent was not clearly identified, this investigation raised many concerns about the importance of preventing foodborne transmission of viral gastroenteritis and generated some recommendations for management of similar outbreaks.
Journal of Food Protection®, Number 9, January 2013, pp. 1488-1657, pp. 1582-1589(8)
Gaulin, Colette; Nguon, Soulyvane; Leblanc, Marie-Andree; Ramsay, Danielle; Roy, Sophie
Part of the premise in the movie, Wedding Crashers, besides the potential for a partner, was the great food. How much could Vince Vaughan eat? Did anyone want to find out? Then, the Owen Wilson character hits bottom and starts crashing funerals to hit on women in emotional distress, or something like that.
Now news from Wellington, New Zealand, where a man dubbed the ‘grim eater’ has been banned from funerals after attending up to four ceremonies a week and even taking home leftovers in a doggy bag.
Danny Langstraat, a director of Harbour City Funeral Home in Wellington, said,
"He was showing up to funeral after funeral and, without a doubt, he didn’t know the deceased. We saw him three or four times a week. Certainly, he had a backpack with some Tupperware containers so, when people weren’t looking, he was stocking up.”
Getting sick and dying while eating food in a hospital sorta sucks. So does going to a funeral and picking up norovirus.
New Zealand health authorities are investigating an outbreak of suspected norovirus linked to food after more than 40 people fell ill following an April 28 funeral and reception for a leading Auckland musician.
A spokeswoman for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said yesterday that it was notified on May 3 that some people who had attended the function had become sick with gastro-intestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
The public health service spokeswoman said the food supplied at the post-funeral function, which included sandwiches and deli items, was suspected to be the source of the infection.
The caterer, who did not wish to be named, said she supplied around three funerals a week.
She said food poisoning had not been established yet in the case of the funeral, and the woman who made the sandwiches that day has a certificate in food handling.
"Everything was bought fresh on the day."
Fresh does not mean safe.