Authorities in a Spanish city have suspended the permit of a company that provided catering to several schools after a large outbreak.

The outbreak affected 149 children and five teachers from four Palma schools on the Balearic Islands this past December.

The suspected food was a rice dish. Sick people had abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting but symptoms were mild with no hospitalizations.

The General Directorate of Public Health temporarily suspended the activity of the company in charge of the catering service. The move follows investigations carried out into the food poisoning incident by the Food Safety Service of the Ministry of Health which found “obvious shortcomings” in food safety management.

Investigation findings
Officials found discrepancies between declared practices and the documentation provided by the catering firm in its food safety plan. They judged that the company’s food safety management system was inconsistent with the actual processes carried out.

The version provided does not demonstrate compliance with the analysis and control of hazards and critical points where there may be food contamination, which puts public health at risk, said authorities.

As yet, the company has not provided information, analysis or data that suggests it knows the cause of the food safety failure and the measures to mitigate it, which creates uncertainty about the corrective measures that will be applied to avoid future risks.

The General Directorate of Public Health said the temporary suspension will apply until the caterer redesigns its food safety program.

Sites affected by the temporary suspension have been told about revised catering arrangements that will apply until further notice.

In 2022, Spain recorded 591 outbreaks with 7,136 patients, 233 hospitalizations and four deaths. The largest affected 266 people and was caused by Clostridium perfringens.  

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