The Guam Daily Post reports that local dining favorite Old Town Chinese Restaurant, usually packed for dinner on a Friday night for its “homestyle” Shanghai cuisine, went silent yesterday. The dining crowd was locked out.
Old Town became the latest casualty in the public’s ever-increasing vigilance on food safety at restaurants, stores and even in one hotel.
Tips from concerned citizens, often accompanied by photos taken on their smartphones and widely circulated on social media – and also provided to the Department of Public Health and Social Services – have increased the temporary closures of food businesses.
In Old Town’s case, a customer complained to the public health agency of finding ants inside roast duck.
“Some evidence to support the complaint was observed,” states the inspection report, released upon request yesterday following a Thursday inspection.
The ants complaint led to numerous findings of food-handling and sanitation issues, the report shows.
Guam health types reportat least 21 individuals who were treated and released at two hospitals suffered from symptoms related to foodborne illness.
Division of Environmental Health Administrator Tom Nadeau says based on interviews, the individuals attended different functions and consumed a variety of items but the common link was the consumption of cream puffs from Celebrity Bakery.
Nadeau says samples of the pastry will be sent off-island and it is too premature to confirm if the cream puffs are the source of the foodborne illness.
Bakery owner Nelia Pono is anxious for the results as her staff have been making the local favorite for 20 years and the night before Thanksgiving, her staff prepared 1,500 cream puffs and sold more than a thousand. Pono added that her staff took some home and tested them and did not get sick.
While the food taster approach may not hold much scientific merit, Pono did say she would pay medical expenses if her bakery was indeed the cause.
Would-be epidemiologist and school principal Agnes Camacho figures it was the school breakfast of egg salad and melon that made almost 300 students ill at Marcial A. Sablan Elementary School in Guam.
Sablan told PNC News, "At around 9:45 several students came into the office complaining about stomach aches and they were vomiting and then another 15 minutes several more came in and we said that’s a high number right so we started documenting their vomiting and stomach aches and then another fifteen minutes they were just coming in students were coming in we had a total of 102 students who were registered with the vomiting.”
Anxious parents flooded the schools with phone calls while others came in person to find out if their children had been sent to the hospital.
At Marcial Sablan elementary school hallways were lined with vomit, "It’s just very scary the hallways here this wall this wall behind and both sides were filled with students sitting and then in the nurses office also… and each of them had trash bags and they were all vomiting,” said Camacho.