A shared kitchen that several daycares in Calgary utilize, which is linked to a massive E. Coli outbreak, was found to have cockroaches during an Environmental Health Inspection. Yesterday, Alberta Health Services confirmed that there are now 310 lab-confirmed cases of E. Coli linked with the outbreak, an increase of 76 cases from the day before.

The inspection was carried out on Tuesday, September 5 at KidsU Centennial - Fueling Minds Inc. (501/505 - 555 2 Avenue SW) and happened one day after Alberta Health Services issued closure orders for several daycares in the city, including one in Okotoks. The closures were ordered after health officials noted that there was a noticeable increase in young children coming to emergency departments with gastrointestinal complaints, including bloody diarrhea. 

"Two live adult cockroaches were observed on the sides of stainless steel equipment around the dishwashing area. The tin cat traps by the two separate two-compartment sinks had at least 20 cockroaches on the sticky pads each," the inspection report noted on September 5, citing this as a critical violation. 

The report also noted that the company needs to provide a pest control report demonstrating further treatments have been completed and that the infestation has been abated and ensure a pest control plan includes preventative measures for preventing the spread of cockroaches into daycare.

"The pest control reports dated for the months of June, July, and August 2023 did not mention: the exact date service was offered, which monitors had activity, where baits were applied, [the] brand and amount of chemical applied, appropriate recommendations for abating infestation."

The other critical health violation noted in the September 5 report was with regard to food handling.

"The operator indicated that cold foods were being transported to other locations in excess of 90 minutes without temperature control. Appropriate equipment for keeping food cold during transportation was not available. Food must be maintained below 4C or above 60C during transport."

The less grievous infractions included a sewer gas smell that was noted near the two-compartment sink in the food preparation area, as well as a large pool of water observed beneath the upright cooler in the dishwashing area.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, as well as Dr. Mark Joffe, the chief medical officer of health for the province, and Dr. Tania Principi, section chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Alberta Children’s Hospital, provided an update on the E. Coli outbreak. While the investigation into the outbreak is ongoing, officials do not yet know the exact source of the E. Coli outbreak, though AHS does believe that the source is very likely linked with the shared kitchen utilized by the daycare facilities.

Public health inspectors have collected samples of 11 food types that were found in the centralized kitchen and they've collected samples of eight leftover food samples that were available from the childcare sites. The samples are being tested in the AHS public health laboratory. Food histories are also being collected from people who attended or who worked in the affected facilities. 

Prior to this closure, the facility was last inspected in April. Two infractions were found at that time and corrected immediately through collaboration between AHS and the operator. As of the end of April 2023, no violations existed in this kitchen.

Officials underlined the kitchen will not be allowed to reopen until all issues related to the infractions have been properly addressed and signed off by public health officials and the investigation into the E. Coli outbreak has been completed.

The details of the closure order for KidsU Centennial - Fueling Minds Inc. which is listed as having been issued a closure order on the AHS Health Enforcement Orders website, stipulates that the owner, must provide all information, samples and any other items required by the Medical Officer of Health and/or Public Health Inspector, as well as conduct a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility in accordance with the direction of the Public Health Inspector.

"That until such time as the work referred to above is completed to the satisfaction of Alberta Health Services, and approval to reopen is granted by the Medical Officer of Health/Executive Officer; the above-noted premises shall remain closed," the order concluded. 

However, the daycares which were previously listed as having been closed are no longer on the list. 

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