State health officials have determined that the cause of a foodborne illness last week that sickened 30 students and two adults at an Oahu elementary school was bacteria-tainted spaghetti. According to a Monday news article, the state Department of Health said spaghetti cooked the previous day at Waipahu Elementary School was not properly heated the day it was served, which created “an environment for bacteria growth.” The food also may not have been properly cooled the day it was cooked, the department said in a statement.
“An inspection and interviews with cafeteria employees revealed food preparation violations that could be corrected with proper training and follow through,” said Peter Oshiro, head of the department’s Sanitation Branch. “We understand the school closed the cafeteria to retrain their food service staff and ensure safe food practices.” The department’s Food Safety Program is conducting food safety training for school cafeteria staff and management. Meanwhile, meals have brought in from a neighboring school. Those sickened on Dec. 10 experienced dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and school officials immediately suspected food poisoning as the cause. “While this was an isolated incident, our staff has and continues to fully cooperate with health officials in ensuring best practice,” said Waipahu Elementary School Principal Gary Chun. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of our school community and remain committed to proper meal preparation.”