The Marler Clark Christmas potluck is next week.
According to news reports, the food poisoning outbreak at an office Christmas party at Maitland Colonnades on Wednesday sickened 55 people, and 25 were transported to area hospitals – a “staph” party?
Health department officials are conducting interviews and running tests on food samples and bodily fluids to find the source.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, which licenses restaurants and caterers, has identified Kitchen Divas as the caterer of the event. The company was last inspected in July. It passed inspection but had five violations, four of which were basic, such as shelf under preparation table soiled with food debris and standing water in hand-wash sink. One was intermediate: the probe thermometer was not within the intended measuring range of use.
At least five health department epidemiologists are performing what’s called a trace-back investigation. They’re talking to patients, the business and the caterer to find the common link.
“They certainly think it was a food-borne illness,” said Dain Weister, public information officer for Florida Department of Health in Orange and Seminole Counties.
Given that people got sick quickly with diarrhea and vomiting, “the immediate organism that comes to mind is Staph,” said Alfred Aleguas, managing director of the Tampa poison center. Staph is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, he said. Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is a common bacterium found on the skin and nose of nearly a quarter of people and animals. It usually doesn’t cause an illness, but it can make several types of toxins, some of which cause food poisoning.