Staff at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal suffer apparent food poisoning during annual free meal

Several Jewish General Hospital staff members suffered apparent cases of food poisoning after taking part in an annual free meal on Tuesday.

A staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said a chicken and a vegetarian option were made available at the catered lunch, but some staff reported a foul smell coming from the chicken.

The staff member said they, along with dozens of others, went home sick.

"Some of the people who were smelling the food didn't eat it at all," said union representative Nickson St-Vil. "They threw it in the garbage."

According to St-Vil, some workers spent time in the emergency room after eating the food. 

HOSPITAL: FOOD WAS PREPARED BY AN OUTSIDE CATERER

A spokesperson for the hospital said the food came from an outside caterer.

“It has been brought to our attention that there has been issues with the meals served at today’s holiday lunch for our staff at the Jewish General Hospital. We deeply regret this unfortunate situation,” said Carl Theriault.

“This meal came from an outside caterer and not the JGH Kitchen. The food in the JGH Kitchen is perfectly fine and safe for patients and staff.”

Later, Theriault said it wasn't yet clear what exactly sickened the employees, or if it was definitely the food.

"The cause of these reactions to the food is being investigated by the external catering service," he wrote in an email.

"It has not been determined if this is a case of food poisoning. This caterer has been hired on numerous occasions at the JGH in the last years. Their service and their food have always been of the utmost quality." 

It's unclear exactly how many people got sick from the food. As many as 2,000 employees were offered the free lunch.

Theriault said Tuesday's evening's supper and Wednesday's breakfast would be postponed because of the incident.

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