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Middlesex County Health Department Investigates Stomach Illnesses at McKinley School

On Thursday, School Officials Put a Stop to Food Distribution After Several Children Reported Upset Stomachs
NJ School Development Authority

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A letter sent home yesterdays with students at the McKinley Elementary School told parents and guardians that "children were experiencing upset stomachs in the cafeteria during the final lunch period" on Thursday March 20.

The finding quickly launched an investigation by the Middlesex County Health Department, which appears to have concluded.

Earlier this afternoon, the Health Department issued a statement saying the investigation did not turn any evidence of foodborne illness.

"Our office sent two Registered Environmental Health Specialists to the school to investigate this matter... The investigation did not reveal any issues or concerns which would indicate the illnesses were food borne."

According to the statement, Health Department inspectors interviewed the Head Nurse, Principal, and Kitchen Manager in addition to conducting an inspection of the school kitchen.

According to the letter sent home with students, the school administration took the following steps upon finding out about the stomach illnesses:

  • All distribution of food was quickly stopped and certified personnel instructed students to throw away any remaining food.
  • All students were moved to a secure location and monitored to ensure their health and well-being.
  • The school mobilized the nurses and provided prompt care to all students who reported with stomach pain.
  • Cafeteria personnel provided an alternate lunch for all students who did not have the opportunity to eat and served them in the classrooms.
  • Students continued to be monitored and treated as needed by the nursing department.
  • Middlesex County Health Department was notified and reported to the school to assist school personnel and to investigate the issue of possible food contamination.

"McKinley Community School remains committed to the safety, health and well-being of your children and assures you that a thorough investigation of this situation is underway," reads the notice.

The McKinley school is one of two elementary schools in the city that serve students from kindergarden through eight grade.  An adjacent pre-kindergarden facility also occupies the Van Dyke Avenue location in the Fourth Ward.