Pita Pit is not only source of salmonella

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

New cases of salmonella have found Pita Pit was not the only source of food poisoning.

CentreSpot shut down Saturday to accommodate extensive sanitizing procedures.

On Nov. 9, the Middlesex-London Health Unit conducted a thorough health inspection at Pita Pit in the University Community Centre after five cases of salmonella poisoning were linked to food served at the franchise Nov.1-2.

Pita Pit was allowed to re-open two hours later, after all contaminated materials were removed, and the Health Unit determined food-handling practices were satisfactory.

Since the original outbreak, many students have contacted the Health Unit, reporting fever, vomiting and diarrhea from eating at Pita Pit.

The number of lab-confirmed salmonella infections grew to 42 this weekend, with an additional 44 students reporting symptoms consistent with the bacterial infection.

Health inspectors at the Health Unit were surprised to discover 12 students with lab-confirmed salmonella infections who had not eaten food prepared at Pita Pit.

In all 12 cases, students purchased food prepared at UCC CentreSpot, Dr. Bryna Warshawsky, associate medical officer of health at MLHU, confirmed.

Dr. Warshawsky said the Health Unit has formulated a few hypotheses to explain the cross-contamination.

“We suspect the original source of contamination occurred at Pita Pit around Nov. 2, and that widespread [contamination] happened the week of Nov. 5-9,” she said.

The source of the outbreak remains undetermined.

“We are working really hard to figure out what it is, to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Dr. Warshawsky said, noting the Health Unit has already completed nine inspections of the premise.

“Every food preparation area, every surface, and every utensil has been cleaned.”

Susan Grindrod, associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services, ensured health inspectors will investigate for as long as needed.

Grindrod added the salmonella outbreak was regrettable and the university will provide medical and academic support for all affected students and staff.

Some students affected by the outbreak may seek compensation for missing class and work time.

Third-year biology student Akosh Kazinczi said he is seeking compensation for the time he was home sick.

“I was dying last week,” he said. “I was in and out of the hospital ... vomiting furiously from Tuesday [Nov. 12], until Friday [Nov. 16].”

He listed sweats, chills, and diarrhea as other symptoms he experienced.

Kazinczi said he has consulted a lawyer and is in the process of writing a letter to Pita Pit.

“My health is most important,” he said. “Nobody wants to be bedridden for a week.”

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