Health Unit declares salmonella outbreak over

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Pita lovers can now enjoy a salmonella-free meal at Centrespot in the University Community Centre since the outbreak was declared officially over Dec. 11, 2007.

Dr. Bryna Warchawsky, associate medical officer of health at the Middlesex London Health Unit, said research is still being done to pinpoint the source of the bacteria.

The original outbreak began Nov. 2, 2007, when several lab-confirmed cases of salmonella poisoning were linked to food served at Pita Pit in UCC Centrespot. Later on, the MLHU discovered the contamination had spread to other food preparation areas in Centrespot during the week of Nov. 6.

In total, 90 cases of salmonella were reported.

After an extensive sanitation and investigation procedure between Nov. 16 and 18, only one additional case of salmonella poisoning was discovered. Dr. Warchawsky said the Health Unit declared the threat to be completely eliminated on Dec. 11, 2007.

Thanks to 15,000 online survey respondents, the MLHU has gathered detailed information about the outbreak. These statistics will be thoroughly analyzed over the next several months, Dr. Warshawsky explained.

University administration has changed its serving practices to prevent future health problems, vice-president housing and ancillary services Susan Grindrod confirmed.

Part of the new protocol includes a daily shutdown between 3 and 3:15 p.m. for additional sanitation and re-organization. Grindrod explained these practices have always been used in residence cafeterias, but has just recently been applied to the UCC Centrespot.

“It gives staff a break ... a chance to reset,” Grindrod said.

Second-year business management and organizational studies student Blake Bracalenti said he appreciated the new protocol.

“Since Pita Pit is such a big chain I figured they wouldn’t let the problem persist,” he said, adding he favours the chicken wraps served by the franchise.

Tess Mayne, a fourth-year health science student, said she would continue to eat at Centrespot, but never ordered food from Pita Pit anyway.

“I’ll stick to the smoothies,” she said.

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