Ottawa

Ground beef possible cause of salmonella

The local owner of a catering franchise linked to 23 cases of salmonella in Ottawa said he is treating the outbreak "as if it's his fault" and said he suspects ground beef as a potential cause.

Outbreak expanded to affect 23 people from five different locations

The local owner of a catering franchise linked to 24 cases of salmonella in Ottawa said he is treating the outbreak "as if it's his fault" and said he suspects ground beef as a potential cause.

Ottawa Public Health updated the number to 23 — involving 19 children and four adults — originating from The Lunch Lady Group caterer kitchen on Boyd Avenue, which serves 55 schools in the Ottawa area.

The cases were first reported at the Tiny Hoppers Daycare in Kanata, Turnbull School, Steve MacLean Public School and John Paul II Elementary School. Stittsville Public School was added to that list Thursday.

The children affected were between the ages of 15 months and 14 years old.

Jonathan Morris, who has operated a franchise of "The Lunch Lady" for five years, said he believes the food in question is ground beef used to make tacos and curly lasagna.

Caterer believes more people affected

He said there are likely more illnesses related to the ground beef than have so far been confirmed.

"There were more schools that were served that day so there may be other children that got sick that day that haven't been part of the list, but may have only been sick for a brief time," said Morris.

Public health said 11 officials have been reassigned to deal with the salmonella outbreak, which also hospitalized three people. All have since been released.

Morris is meeting with public health officials Thursday and has also sent a letter to thousands of parents. He said some parents have already cancelled their lunch service, while others are offering support.

Lunch Lady founder Ruthie Burd called the news "painful" when she was told her Ottawa franchise might have caused a salmonella outbreak.

"It's horribly painful because we love serving kids everyday," Ruthie Burd said over the phone from her home in Markham, Ont. on Wednesday.

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