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Children mass poisoning: Staphylococcus detected in food samples

The bacteria Staphylococcus was detected in samples of the school lunches that lead to mass food poisoning of elementary school children, Greece’s National  Public Health Organization (EOODY) announced on Monday evening.

Citing the EODY statement, state-broadcaster ERT reported that the outbreak of food poisoning cases is due to a toxin produced by the staphylococcus.

In the samples sent to the regional public health laboratory of EODY in Thessaly, Central Greece, a toxin-producing staphylococcus was isolated in ten food samples, therefore the outbreak of cases is due to a toxin produced by the staphylococcus.

So far, ten samples of the school lunch (linguini with minced meat) have been examined, the final results of all samples are expected on Wednesday.

The laboratory and epidemiological investigation is ongoing, EODY stressed.

63 elementary school children in 7 schools in Lamia, central Greece, developed symptoms of food poisoning last Thursday, after they consumed the school lunches distributed by a specific local company assigned with this duty. Four children and one teacher had visited the local hospital and were discharged after they received first aid. The overwhelming majority of the cases were treated by pediatricians to whom parents sought help.

Angry parents visited the local prosecutor’s office on Friday and at least 30 lawsuits were filed against the catering company that is a main supplier to public schools, institutions and hospitals in the local and broader area.

A team of food control experts visited the company’s facility where the meals are being prepared, “but there was no production line as schools are closed on Saturday and so they left,” one of them told ERT adding that they wanted to check the production procedure.

However, a fire broke out in the facility late on Sunday night and destroyed it completely, “along with any evidence of spoiled food or food production and packaging that did not comply with health protocols,” noted topontiki.gr.

In statements to Alpha TV, Andreas Zambelas, president of the Food Control Agency (EFET), emphasized that a team went to the facility on Saturday, however the unit was not working and would revisit the site on Monday.

“Unfortunately, of course, after this tragic event [the fire], obviously our own actions are canceled. So there is no report or conclusion of the EFET on the food that was distributed,” Zambelas said.

Monday morning and while the fire was still not totally extinguished,  the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court sent an order to the Lamia First Instance Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the causes of the fire.

The prosecutor is asking for the case to be investigated, as the fire comes just 24 hours after the mass poisoning of students in the city of Lamia, from meals that came from the specific factory, and while the parents are preparing to file mass lawsuits.

According to a relevant announcement, the prosecutor of the Supreme Court stated is seeking the full investigation of the causes of the fire that “completely destroyed the factory of the company “Giannitsis” in the industrial area of Lamia in relation to the fact that the specific factory was involved with the school lunches that led primary school students to the hospital, due to massive food poisoning.”

Now it it the turn of Fire Service investigators to jump in and find out the causes of the fire.

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