After the exhibition and conference (which took place April 8-10 at the Baltimore Convention Center), city officials fielded four phone calls from Food Safety Summit attendees reporting various symptoms of foodborne illness. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) reached out to attendees with an online survey to determine if there were others stricken by gastroenteritis due to an as-yet-unnamed pathogen.
Alvina Chu, chief of the Division of Outbreak Investigation for the DHMH, told FPD after receiving feedback from 400 Food Safety Summit attendees, the agency has uncovered a total of more than 100 reports of illness.
“There have been no associated hospitalizations or deaths reported,” she said. “We are working on evaluating possible exposures and doing testing at the Maryland state public health laboratory to attempt to identify an agent.”
Chu told FPD the DHMH will issue a report of its findings at the conclusion of the investigation.
After the initial reports of foodborne illness, the Baltimore City Health Department dispatched two environmental sanitarians to the Baltimore Convention Center’s Centerplate foodservice facility. With the exception of condensation dripping from an ice machine (not related to the illnesses), nothing observed during the initial examination was found to be out of order.
According to Food Safety Summit organizers, the group plans to return to the Baltimore Convention Center next year. The event is scheduled April 28-30, 2015.