Twenty-one preschool children were taken by ambulance to three hospitals from Ave Marie Friends Preparatory School in Lauderhill, Florida on Monday, November 7, 2016. They were treated for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, symptoms of gastrointestinal distress and classic symptoms of food poisoning. Some of the children have been discharged from the hospital as of Tuesday night.
The school, at 5801 Northwest 19th Street, served the children lunch that was catered by an outside vendor. Jeff Levy, assistant chief of Lauderhill Fire Rescue told the Sun-Sentinel that “the only common denominator is what the children ate for lunch.”
The Florida Department of Health is investigating the outbreak and did not respond to Food Poisoning Bulletin’s questions yesterday. Altogether, 29 children were sickened in this outbreak. The school was closed yesterday. Officials are testing the food the children were given for lunch.
The only pathogen that can cause foodborne illness symptoms that quickly is Staphylococcus aureus. Norovirus can also cause food poisoning symptoms quickly, as can Bacillus cereus.
Also according to the Sun-Sentinel, the catering company is Healthy Children Catering. Inspection reports for that facility at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation does show violations that could “contribute directly to a foodborne illness or injury.”
Some of the violations in an October 2, 2016 inspection included cooked meats or poultry held at less than 135°F, and potentially hazardous food held at more than 41°F. In addition, toxic chemicals were stored near the food, and employees touching ready to serve food with their bare hands. In an inspection on October 28, 2016, officials found cooked hamburgers that were not stored at safe temperatures inside the catering company’s delivery truck.