Five persons were taken into custody in Berbice, Guyana, as health authorities investigated why more than 100 people became ill after having lunch at a community-policing retreat on Sunday.

According to the Stabroek News, samples of the food and beverages served at the lunch were submitted for testing.

About 350 people had attended the retreat at the Berbice High School.   An hour or so after lunch, which included fried rice and chicken, dozens of people became ill with abdominal pain and nausea.

Health officials in Berbice said approximately 100 people were examined at the nearby New Amsterdam hospital, according to the Guyana Chronicle.  While most of the people were in stable condition, about 40 were admitted.  Some were discharged and later had to be readmitted.

People at the New Amsterdam Hospital said the hospital was filled with patients seeking treatment, and many of them were lying on the floor crying out in pain.


The Starbroek News reported that a source close to the investigation said the food poisoning was likely the result of spoiled meat.  The newspaper said caterers and others had acknowledged slow cooking meat  hours before it was served.