The kitchen at the heart of an E. coli outbreak that sickened almost 450 children at daycare centers in Calgary, Canada, has been allowed to reopen on a limited basis.

Provincial health officers in Alberta say the Fueling Minds kitchen can only serve one of the 11 daycare centers that were closed during the E. coli outbreak that sickened 448 people and impacted 1,595 children who had to seek care while centers were closed. A Meals on Wheels program will be used by the other daycare centers.

The outbreak was announced Labor Day weekend and was not declared over until Oct. 31. Inspectors found several problems at the central kitchen that served the daycare centers, including cockroaches, standing water and a food thermometer stored in a bucket with tools that could not be cleaned. Staff also told inspectors that food was transported during 90-minute trips without temperature control.

Public health officials determined through patient interviews that meatloaf and veggie loaf made at the central kitchen and served at the daycare centers was the source of the E. coli. Almost 40 children required hospitalization and more than 20 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which attacks the kidneys and frequently results in brain damage, the need for transplants or death.

Eleven daycare centers were initially closed, as was the central kitchen, but the centers were allowed to reopen. The kitchen remained closed. According to Fueling Brains Academy it has eight preschool and daycare centers in Calgary and Strathmore. It takes care of about 2,000 children. Six of the 11 daycares initially closed because of the outbreak are Fueling Brains locations and had some of their children involved in the outbreak.

Corporate records from the Alberta provincial government show Fueling Brains Inc. was incorporated in the province in 2017. The company’s directors are Faisal Alimohd and Anil Karim, who are both listed as voting shareholders. Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges for operating without a license. They could be fined up to $120,000.

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