East Hawaii News

Food Poisoning Confirmed as Source of Illnesses at Oahu School

December 16, 2013, 4:52 PM HST
* Updated December 16, 4:54 PM
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State health officials have found that bacteria-tainted spaghetti was the cause of an illness that struck dozens of students at Waipahu Elementary School earlier this month.

The state Department of Health said spaghetti cooked the previous day at the Oahu school was not properly heated the day it was served, which created “an environment for bacteria growth.” The food also may not have been properly cooled the day it was cooked, the DOH said in a statement today.

“An inspection and interviews with cafeteria employees revealed food preparation violations that could be corrected with proper training and follow through,” said Peter Oshiro, head of the department’s Sanitation Branch. “We understand the school closed the cafeteria to retrain their food service staff and ensure safe food practices.”

Two adults and more than 30 students came down with dizziness, nausea and vomiting on Dec. 10. School officials immediately suspected food poisoning as the cause.

The DOH’s Food Safety Program is conducting food safety training for Waipahu Elementary cafeteria staff and management.

“While this was an isolated incident, our staff has and continues to fully cooperate with health officials in ensuring best practice,” said Waipahu Elementary School Principal Gary Chun. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of our school community and remain committed to proper meal preparation.”

Since the incident and while an investigation was underway, meals were brought in to Waipahu Elementary from a neighboring school.

That will continue for the remainder of this week until the school’s cafeteria crew completes health safety training, health officials said.

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