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Possible food poisoning sickens hundreds at food safety summit

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People from the very organizations that work to keep food safe, may have eaten some not so safe food. More than 100 people are reporting they got sick with suspected food poisoning at a national Food Safety Summit held earlier this month in Baltimore, reported by NBC News on Wednesday.

Maryland state health officials say they still are not sure what caused the outbreak of gastroenteritis that left participants suffering symptoms that included stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea. The CDC says, many different viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including rotaviruses; noroviruses; adenoviruses, types 40 and 41; sapoviruses; and astroviruses. Viral gastroenteritis is not caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella species or Escherichia coli), or parasites (such as Giardia lamblia), or by medications, or other medical conditions, although the symptoms may be similar.

In a letter to attendees, officials say,“We are working on evaluating possible exposures and doing testing at the Maryland state public health laboratory to attempt to identify an agent.”

The conference was held April 8 to 10 at the Baltimore Convention Center. At least 1,300 of the top food safety officials in the nation, including staff from federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as businesses such as McDonald’s, Tyson and ConAgra Foods were in attendance.

Health officials have heard back from about 400 of those who attended, so the total number of illness might be higher.

City health officials inspected the convention center and its food service provider, Centerplate. The company was issued a violation notice for condensation dripping from one of the two ice machines in the kitchen.

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