Kaitaia College students hospitalised after raw chicken served for lunch

A Northland school has apologised after served students uncooked chicken for lunch on Wednesday, with some taken to hospital over the incident.

Kaitaia College, which has almost 900 students, said some of them “started feeling ill” during their lunch programme.

“Kaitaia College is working with health authorities and the local hospital to ensure the safety of students who may have eaten raw chicken during the school’s provided lunch programme today,” the chairperson of the college’s Board of Trustees, Diane Laurenson, said.

“Students were immediately told to stop eating the chicken provided by an external caterer, but a number of them have begun feeling ill, with some being taken to hospital for further treatment.”

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Laurenson said in the statement that parents, the food supplier, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and other government agencies had been notified.

“If your child starts vomiting, has stomach cramps or diarrhoea go immediately to your health professional or the emergency department at your local hospital,” Whangārei’s Health Protection Officer said.

Kaitaia College mistakenly served undercooked chicken to its students on Wednesday.

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Kaitaia College mistakenly served undercooked chicken to its students on Wednesday.

“Continue to follow safe hygiene practices such as washing hands thoroughly or use sanitiser.”

Kaitaia College said it took the health and safety of all its students and staff “very seriously” and staff were doing everything they could to “ensure those affected receive the appropriate medical attention”.

“Once students are safe, the College will investigate how this happened,” Laurenson said.

“We apologise to parents for this, and thank them for their understanding in this matter.”

The company that provides the lunches to the school, Bells Produce, also addressed the issue on its Facebook page.

“We have become aware that in today’s lunches to Kaitaia College, which had cooked crumbed chicken as an ingredient, that a batch of lunches had uncooked meat,” the company wrote.

“Firstly we would like to apologise to the school and children who this may have affected. All of the lunches were recalled as a safety measure once we were notified.”

Salmonella colonies (black) in a petri dish.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Salmonella colonies (black) in a petri dish.

Bells Produce acknowledged the uncooked meat was “a concerning issue” and was working alongside Kaitaia College to investigate what might have caused it.

“Once again we are deeply sorry to everybody involved and that those affected lunches [were not made] to a safe and acceptable standard, that should be expected,” Bells Produce said.

Raw chicken can cause salmonella infection, a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract.

It can also cause campylobacteriosis, which is caused by campylobacter bacteria.

The uncooked chicken discovery comes a week after multiple hummuses and taihini were flagged as a salmonella risk and taken off supermarket shelves.

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