Fueling Minds Kitchen faces 12 charges in relation to Calgary E. coli outbreak
By James Windler, Contributor
Fueling Minds kitchen faces 12 charges in relation to the largest E. coli outbreak in Alberta history.
After weeks of investigating, Fueling Minds Kitchen, and its two directors have each been charged under the Business Licensing Bylaw for operating without a business licence.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mark Joffe, Premier Danielle Smith, Minister of Health Adriana LaGrange, and Minister of Children and Family Services Searle Turton held a press conference to update the public on the investigation in lieu of the charges against Fueling Minds Kitchen.
When asked about the state of the charges, which could see Fueling Minds Kitchen charged up to $120,000, Smith said she could not comment particularly on criminal charges as that would be up to the Calgary Police Service to address.
“I did also see the charges that the City of Calgary issued and it’s quite serious, it sounds like it could be up to $120,000 in fines, so obviously everyone is taking this very seriously,” said Smith.
“We leave it to the different orders of government and police services to decide if any other action needs to be taken.”
Regarding the source of the outbreak, there was confusion as to whether or not the investigation would be solved. Smith claimed the cause of the outbreak would be found in a Sept. 15 press conference, but just four days later in a separate press conference, Joffe pushed back on that statement saying the source may never be found.
During the Sept. 27 press conference, Joffe shed light on the situation and where everything currently stands.
“We thoroughly tested 44 different food items, five milk samples, and five beverage samples,” said Joffe. “Based on our investigation, we believe that meatloaf and vegan loaf meals that were served for lunch on Aug. 29 most likely contain the E. coli bacteria that led to these infections.”
Unfortunately, the meat and vegan loaves could not be tested as any possible sample had been eaten or discarded before the outbreak happened.
Even though a likely source has been identified, Joffe said the investigation is still ongoing as they hope to find more information as to how this outbreak occurred.
“While we now have a likely source, what we do not know exactly is what was contaminated or how. I do not want to speculate at this point on the answers to these two questions, as the investigation remains extremely active and is ongoing,” Joffe said.
Diana Batten, MLA for Calgary-Acadia and critic for childcare and children and family services has been critical of the UCP’s handling of the outbreak since it began.
Last week Batten continued to push for impartial public inquiry regarding the E. coli outbreak, with the purpose of taking out any possible bias. As the investigation continues Batten is unsure why this hasn’t happened.
“Albertans deserve an independent public inquiry that is fully transparent to the public, that the public can engage in and that will produce all records of what were investigated and what recommendations were made,” Batten said via a Sept. 27 press release.
At a Sept. 15 press conference, Smith announced a one-time $2,000 compassionate payment per kid for the families that were affected by the E. Coli outbreak, but some families had trouble accessing the payment.
At a Sept. 19 press conference, Turton addressed these troubles stating that he hoped to get the payments sent out as quickly as possible.
At the Sept. 27 press conference, Turton gave a quick update on the state of the compassionate payment which has now seen over 800 applicants apply.
“Any of the daycares affected by the September 4 closure (the original 11) those parents are eligible for the compassionate payment,” said Turton. “The program has not expanded, but since the original announcement additional daycares have become eligible under the original criteria that we talked about.”
The additional daycares that were affected bring the total number from 11 to 19 who can now apply for the payment.
If your family was affected by the outbreak you can head over to Alberta.ca under the compassionate payment tab to see and see if you are eligible for the one-time $2,000 payment.
As of Sept. 27 there are 351 lab-confirmed cases related to the E. coli outbreak, 37 secondary cases and four children remain in the hospital.