Less than an hour after eating a turkey dinner served at the Denver Rescue Mission at 7 p.m., dozens of meal recipients began to vomit and became dehydrated from fluid loss.
Emergency responders were called to both Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter – where the meal was served – and to the Samaritan House across the street, where some people who had eaten the meal were staying. A total of 54 people from the Lawrence Street Shelter and 6 from the Samaritan House were taken to the hospital, according to Alexxa Gagner, a representative from Denver Rescue Mission.
No deaths have been associated with the event thus far.
Many of those who ate the meal were not staying at either shelter, meaning that other homeless individuals in the Denver area may also be sick.
“We served 340 people last night for dinner, and we know that 60 of those people got sick but as far as people who left our facility and went out into the community we don’t know if they were sick or not,” Gagner told Food Safety News.
Denver Rescue Mission has notified Denver’s Road Home, which coordinates homeless assistance efforts throughout the city, so that all facilities in the network can be on the lookout for others who may have been sickened after Sunday night’s meal.
So far the exact source of the food poisoning remains unclear, say health officials.
“At this point we don’t want to speculate. We have our investigators out there and they’re checking but we really have no idea what the source is,” Megan Hughes, a representative for the Denver Department of Environmental Health, told Food Safety News.
While turkey was the main course at the dinner, mashed potatoes and vegetables were also served and have not been ruled out as possible sources of contamination. Denver Rescue Mission says it’s possible that the food that made people ill was given to the shelter as a donation.
“It is unclear if it was donated and that’s what we’re looking into. We did have some donations on Saturday and so we’re seeing if that’s what was actually served,” says Gagner.© Food Safety News