February 24, 2024

School Outbreak in Maine Sickened 22 Children Last Week

According to the Portland Press Herald, 22 Portland schoolchildren were sickened with food poisoning last week at Reiche Elementary School. Officials suspect a pickled beet salad may be the culprit.

School LunchroomSchool officials alerted public health officials when student began to throw up about an hour after lunch on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The cafeteria at Reiche was the only school in the public school system to serve that beet salad that day. There were no illnesses in the rest of the district.

Lab results are pending. No students needed to see the doctor. Twenty-one of the twenty-two sickened students returned to school the next day. The school district’s central kitchen and the kitchen at Reiche School were inspected by public health officials. While the district kitchens passed inspection with just two minor violations, the kitchens at the school failed inspection with four critical violations.

The violations were: salad bar sneeze guard too high, the self-serve salad bar was not monitored, cut salad greens and mac and cheese were left out without time and temperature control, and the school wasn’t sanitizing a key pad used by students.

One thing puzzles investigators: how fast the children got sick and how quickly they recovered. Staff is cooperating with the investigation. Children and staff are being interviewed and samples were taken to be sent to a lab.

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