Hundreds of people celebrated Thanksgiving at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Antioch, and three of them died after the meal.
Also, five others were hospitalized at the Sutter Delta Medical Center the weekend after Thanksgiving. Doctors believe that the patients might have been infected with a foodborne illness. As four of them recovered, one is still receiving treatment at the center.
What Are The Risks?
The public health authorities from the Contra Costa Health Department have started a comprehensive investigation to identify the source of the illness.
However, they believe that it might not be a threat to other people as well. According to spokesperson Victoria Balladares, it is not known yet what organization prepared the meal, but the food was offered by a non-profit group to around 835 people.
Balladares further added that if the food had been contaminated, it would have caused an outbreak. Fortunately, no other cases have been reported yet. Environmental health and public health officials will continue their investigation to find out why just eight people have been sickened, although other 800 ate the same Thanksgiving food.
Loaves and Fishes, a non-profit organization, is the one which usually offers free food to homeless and low-income residents at the Memorial Hall. Nevertheless, Balladares explained that the group was not responsible for preparing the meal, so they would be allowed to continue offering free meals.
The Thanksgiving Meal and the Golden Hills Community Church
Autrey James, the commander of American Legion Post 161, the Thanksgiving meal was provided by Golden Hills Community Church at the Memorial Hall. He added that they were not involved in preparing the dinner and that they mourn the loss of the three people.
There are two decades since the group has been providing Thanksgiving free meals at the Memorial Hall, and they have never caused any problems. The food was served to homeless, senior citizens, and other people who didn’t have anyone to spend the Thanksgiving with.
The public health experts are not sure yet whether the meal has been related to a foodborne illness. According to Janet Wilson, American Legion Post 161 spokesperson, many organizations, such as the Community Church, Loaves and Fishes, and the Boy Scouts, use the Veterans Memorial Hall. However, they didn’t prepare the Thanksgiving dinner. More precisely, the meal was prepared and delivered outside, according to Wilson.
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