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30 People Sick After Eating Food Catered by Local Restaurant

Thirty individuals became sick after eating the food at Haven Middle School parent/teacher conferences.

The City of Evanston said was the source of a recent food borne illness outbreak that caused 30 people to get sick.

The Evanston restaurant was catering parent/teacher conferences at Haven Middle School on Feb. 16, and people reported falling ill shortly after. The Evanston Health Department investigated the incident and concluded that poor handling of the food was the likely cause of the outbreak.

“The outcome of the investigation revealed unsafe food handling and temperature storage at both Merle’s BBQ Restaurant and Haven Middle School and it is therefore unlikely that the exact cause of the outbreak will be determined,” said Evanston Health Director Evonda Thomas.

It was reported in a city press release that samples of food from the conferences were sent to the llinois Department of Public Health Laboratory in Springfield for testing. Health inspectors were also sent to Merle’s Smokehouse to collect food samples and perform an inspection of the restaurant's food handling, storage and transportation.

"Results of the test indicated Clostridium perfrigens as the causative agent," the release said.

Clostridium perfrigens are toxins that cause food poisoning. The Illinois Department of Public Health says symptoms associated with consuming the toxin includes stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.

The health department confirmed that the bacteria came from barbecue pulled chicken that was prepared at the restaurant and served "buffet style" at the school.

"No temperatures were taken at the time of delivery and the food was not kept heated or refrigerated during the time it was being served," the city said.

The city said it is working with the restaurant and the school to prevent a similar occurrence from happening again.

Christine Wolf March 04, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Scott: The link you posted for the press release doesn't seem to be working.
J C March 04, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Yes it can take time to thoroughly investigate the cause of an incident like this. And it is difficult to pin down the exact point where the contamination occurred. Catering involves handling of food by many people, One reason I personally avoid catered events. The best way to avoid issues it to have the food prepared on site but it's not possible in some situations. However rushing to judgment is usually never a good idea.
Jessica Rudis (Editor) March 04, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Scott, Christine - we'll have something up on this soon.
J C March 04, 2011 at 09:52 PM
My opinion on Teachers, A good Teacher is worth their weight in Gold. Comparing them to police, nurses, garbage men, Just doesn't work. Teachers are responsible for weaving the very fabric that our nation, If not the world is made of. And that is the next generation, The youth that will eventually inherit the only world in which we have to live. How can you put a price tag on something as essential as that? What could be a bigger responsibility?
Jessica Rudis (Editor) March 04, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Here you go: http://evanston.patch.com/articles/merles-says-city-wrongly-accused-them-of-food-illness-outbreak
Richard Schulte March 05, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Ms. Ward, an interesting comment. Yesterday, I heard about a study funded by Bill Gates (chairman of MicroSoft Corporation). The study indicated that teachers with lots of classroom experience don't do a better job teaching than teachers with just a few years of experience. In other words, the performance of teachers with 10, 20 or 25 years of experience isn't really all that different from teachers with 3 or 4 years experience. When you think about it, that makes sense. Given that, should teachers with 15 years experience be paid more than teachers with 5 years of experience? Being an engineer, I know it doesn't take a PhD in mathematics to teach algebra, or a masters degree either. Any engineer with a BS degree in engineering would be able to teach algebra. Algebra is algebra. Algebra hasn't changed in a 100 years. 10 or 20 years of experience does not improve your algebra skills since algebra is a finite subject. This morning I heard two commercials for the Illinois Educational Association. The advertisements for the IEA said that the IEA was "leading the charge" for school reform. Why does the IEA feel a need to advertise? If the IEA was really leading the charge for school reform, wouldn't we all know about it? What exactly is the IEA proposing-the advertisement doesn't say? How about pay commensurate with performance, not the number of years on the job?
Richard Schulte March 05, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Our children are our future. Nothing is more important to me than the future of my child. (That's why I sent my son to Baker Demonstration School for 9 years ($72 thousand), even though I had to borrow money to do so.) I'm sure most parents in Evanston feel the same way about their children, but are simply stuck with the public school system because they can't afford to escape the system. For someone to say that what's going on in our tax-payer funded schools is "irrelevant" to the future of our nation is, well. . .since I'm being nice, you can finish my sentence. Any public school teacher who thinks that what goes on in public schools is "irrelevant" shouldn't be teaching anyone's children. Many of the problems which we see in our society today are the result of the neglect of our children in public schools. Throwing more money at the public schools is not the answer. Introducing competition works every time its tried. (It was working in Washington DC until the teachers' union got Michelle Rhee fired.) Vouchers would allow the parents of poor and middle class children to have the option of attending better schools. Based upon the comments from teachers that I have seen here, I decided to join Michelle Rhee's group: studentsfirst.org Thanks for encouraging me to support better schools in Evanston and throughout the nation. It appears to me that Michelle Rhee is on the right track. The education of our children is not "irrelevant".
Christine Wolf March 05, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Richard Schulte, I must comment on your passage: "That's why I sent my son to Baker Demonstration School for 9 years ($72 thousand), even though I had to borrow money to do so.) I'm sure most parents in Evanston feel the same way about their children, but are simply stuck with the public school system because they can't afford to escape the system." I can speak for countless District 65 families like myself who choose to send their kids to public school -- and we don't feel stuck at all. While I don't discount the merits of Baker -- or any private institutions (I earned my Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis Univ. and worked with Baker's teachers and students during many of my classes), I choose the public schools because I believe they're a valuable, worthwhile, essential component of our society. I also believe there's significant responsibility required -- on behalf of parents, teachers, administrators, and yes, the community they serve to maintain their integrity. I support groups like Foundation 65, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that raises and grants funds for projects that expand, enrich and complement educational opportunities for the students, staff and community in Evanston/Skokie District 65. See the brief video at http://www.foundation65.org/ While I haven't handed $72K to a private institution to educate my children, I believe by the time they have graduated, I will have invested something similar in my time and effort.
Richard Schulte March 05, 2011 at 03:41 PM
It's interesting to note that another commenter said that what goes on in schools is "irrelevant". I believe the commenter who said that was a public school teacher. Compensation is normally connected to the level of skill required to perform a job. When my son was in first grade, the first grade teacher at Baker Demonstration School enlisted a 7th grader to teach my son to read. Another commenter, Marci, said that her mother taught her how to read. If 7th graders and mothers can teach children without an education degree, this would seem to be indicative that the skill level to perform the job is not all that high. No insult intended, that's just the way it is. With respect to compensation level of police officers and nurses, there is simply no comparison between the police officers and teachers. Police officers are under psychological stress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and their work is put under a microscope constantly. The same for nurses-if a nurse makes a mistake and a patient dies, they have to live with that for the rest of their lives-talk about psychological stress, not to mention the plaintiff's attorney ripping everything that you ever did. Want to know about what happens if you make a mistake or someone accuses you making a mistake? Ask the owners of Merle's. Merle's has been accused of improperly handling food, not convicted. Now their business is suffering on the mere suggestion by some trial lawyer and his greedy client. Thumbs up to Merle's.
Scott Anderson March 05, 2011 at 04:32 PM
I'm sorry. Here is the correct link. http://merlesbbq.com/pressrelease.html
Scott Anderson March 05, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Hi Christine. Sorry, here is the correct link. http://merlesbbq.com/pressrelease.html
Scott Anderson March 05, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Thank you!
Richard Schulte March 05, 2011 at 04:47 PM
Christine, you make the assumption that my family spent $72 thousand on my son's education at Baker Demonstration School and that was all that we did. Parents at Baker do more than just dump their children at the front door and let the "magic" of Baker happen. There are countless activities which parents at Baker participate in. I helped coach football, basketball and softball teams there. There were countless Friday nights where Baker parents sat while our children played in the gym or swam in the pool. I played football with my son and classmates and the wonderful Tom Beck, the phys ed teacher at Baker, after school. Tom Beck wasn't out the door at 3:30. Being a consultant, I sell my expertise and my time-the tuition was only a small part of economic sacrifice I made so my son could get a good elementary education. When my son attended ETHS and played on the football team, there was only one parent who attended pert near every practice and all of the games. I was referred to as Coach Schulte and I knew every play that was being called on Saturday mornings. I'm not looking for a medal-my point is that's the commitment that's required. BDS inspires parents to make that commitment if only for the reason that you're paying lots of money for it. Free public education is not valued because somebody else is paying for it. Oh yes, the teachers at Baker make less than public school teachers, but I never heard any complaints. Our children are worth that commitment.
Richard Schulte March 06, 2011 at 03:45 PM
A few more facts: "Nationwide, public school teachers are almost twice as likely as other parents to choose private schools for their own children, the study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found. More than 1 in 5 public school teachers said their children attend private schools. In Washington (28 percent), Baltimore (35 percent) and 16 other major cities, the figure is more than 1 in 4. In some cities, nearly half of the children of public school teachers have abandoned public schools. In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; Rochester, N.Y., 38 percent. The same trends showed up in the San Francisco-Oakland area, where 34 percent of public school teachers chose private schools for their children; 33 percent in New York City and New Jersey suburbs; and 29 percent in Milwaukee and New Orleans." Source: "Clarice's Pieces: Picture This", Clarice Feldman, March 6, 2011 http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/03/clarices_pieces_picture_this_1.html ". . .Senator Patrick Moynihan [(D)] noted that some forty-six years earlier he said much the same thing: ". . .For there is good money to be made out of bad schools. . . .we are obliged to ask why things do not change." Senator Moynihan was and Mayor Daley is a rock-solid Democrat. This conversation is not a donkey vs. elephant party discussion. I hope this conversation is about the education of our children and our nation's future.
J C March 06, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Have you heard anything about the "rubber room's" in New York , Were teachers sit for months sometimes years awaiting disciplinary hearings? A pit fall of collective bargaining? Unions, Government and Courts, Getting nothing done.
Marya F March 06, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Nothing against Baker (one of my kids attended pre school there) but in the "real world" and the "real schools", there is the good, the bad and the ugly. Sure, there are some things that need to be fixed in the public schools, and not all teachers are fabulous. Involved, concerned, interested parents join their local PTA and often times volunteer in the school(s) to help make the system work. Teachers, in addition to maintaining a classroom and helping 20-30 kids learn, grow, meet/exceed National standards - also attend training sessions, seminars, professional workshops and graduate programs to strengthen their own teaching skills. If we recognize that with the "bad", there is a tremendous amount of "good" to be found in our Evanston public schools, we are doing the "right" thing for our children, by ushering them into the real world which is diverse, complicated, flawed, corrupt - and beautiful, interesting, fun, brilliant, and challenging. I think private schools are AWESOME by the way - but in terms of real versus Disney - private schools are very Disney. And by the way Mr. Shulte, I love Disney too. This posting is not intentionally criticizing anyone or any thing, including Cinderella.
Richard Schulte March 10, 2011 at 09:57 PM
I just heard on the radio a few moments ago that the Illinois legislators were considering making changes to how teachers are compensated in the state. These changes were being floated by Democrats, not Republicans. Don't have any details, but when Mayor Daley and Governor Walker (Wisconsin) are pretty much on the same page with respect to teachers' unions, there must be a significant problem which needs to be addressed. The teachers' union demonstrations which occurred in Madison embarrassed the teaching profession throughout the country. It would seem that if the teachers in Wisconsin were really concerned about their students (as they say they are), they would have been in their classrooms and would have saved their demonstrations for the weekends. In my more than 50 years, I don't recall doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers or nurses ever being involved in any sort of rowdy demonstration concerning their compensation or their right to organize. I very much appreciate EvanstonPatch allowing this discussion to take place.
Richard Schulte March 10, 2011 at 10:06 PM
An article written by Governor Scott Walker appeared in the Wall Street Journal today. Two excerpts from the article are noteworthy: "In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority." "In Wisconsin, we can avoid the massive teacher layoffs that schools are facing across America. Our budget-repair bill is a commitment to the future so our children won't face even more dire consequences than we face today, and teachers like Ms. Sampson are rewarded—not laid off." Why would the teachers' unions in Wisconsin prefer mass layoffs of teachers, rather than supporting the Governor in trying to minimize those layoffs? The "baby boom" generation is not called the "me generation" for nothing. "And so my fellow Americans. . . Ask what you can do for your country." President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961
Marya F March 13, 2011 at 07:01 PM
"Pay Teachers More" an Op/Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, published in the Sunday March 13th edition. WWW.NYTIMES.COM
Richard Schulte March 13, 2011 at 07:21 PM
"This year, Pennsylvania's state legislature will consider Senate Bill 1 - The Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act. Intended to create education vouchers for kids trapped in failing schools. One of SB1's primary sponsors and most passionate advocates, Sen. Anthony Williams, is an African-American Democrat from Philadelphia. Sen. Williams understands the need for the bill. Philadelphia's inner-city schools are among America's worst. "Not surprisingly, SB1 is opposed by teachers unions and politicians whose political influence and campaign funds would be affected by its passage." "Access to quality public education is the civil rights issue of this century." "Unions are obstacles to school choice and other reforms. For all the concern unions express about children, their interests are limited to their adult, dues-paying constituencies. Teachers unions are big businesses managing big money with real political clout. Cumulatively, teachers unions are by far the largest contributor to political campaigns in America. Unions have taken over our schools, and they mean to keep control of them." "Challenging the Teachers Unions", Jerry Shenk http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/03/challenging_the_teachers_union.html Should poor minority children have access to good public schools? I think so. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was supposed to have addressed this issue, but here in 2011, we're still fighting for basic rights for all our citizens.
Richard Schulte March 14, 2011 at 01:08 PM
"Recent IRS statistics suggest that those who make over $110,000 a year are in the upper 10% of income earners . . .In Illinois, a whopping 14,048 public school teachers made over $100,000 a year in salary in 2010, a 13% increase from 2009. So , who are these working class heroes? Leading the pack is William Mitz a physical education teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School with a salary of $191,124 (the highest paid public school teacher in Illinois in 2010). There's Steven Heuerman who made $187,278 in 2010, who's a physical education teacher at Niles West High School. There's Paul Parpet , a physical education teacher at Addison Trail High School who made $184,449 in salary in 2010. David Sebald is a physical education teacher at West Leyden High School who made $177,263 in salary in 2010. Deerfield High School had two physical education teachers making over $170,000 a year in 2010: Carol Myers who made $170,981 in salary, and Gayle Luehr who made $170,012. Through the "negotiating" tactics of unions, 6 of the 12 highest paid public school teachers, in Illinois, are physical education teachers. Should physical education teachers be paid the highest levels of compensation in public education?. . .Illinois Governor Pat Quinn would rather raise the Illinois state income tax by 67% than cut the compensation of these upper class workers. It's for the children. Got that?" Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/03/lets_hear_it_for_the_working_c.html
Marya F March 14, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Hurray for PE teachers making 6 figures! That means our kids might actually get athletic scholarships to college, meaning our kids won't have to work 2 jobs and we won't have to take out gov't loans and 2nd mortgages to help our kids attend college. Hello Big 10 football!
Richard Schulte March 15, 2011 at 10:06 PM
For two weeks now, teachers have denied that they make 6 figure salaries. Now the data is in-there are 14,048 teachers in the State of Illinois who make in excess of $100,000 in salary for only 8 months of work. This data is salary only-the fringe benefits put the total compensation far in excess of $100 thousand. As indicated in another post, the salary figure alone puts these teachers in the top 10 percent of all wage earners in the United States (based upon IRS data). Based upon the data, it appears that many Illinois teachers, including physical education teachers, have a higher salary than many Illinois primary care physicians. It's difficult to interpret Ms. Flood's response, however, it seems that she is finally admitting that it's true about the 6 figure salaries. While folks in the private sector (who pay teachers' salaries) are losing their homes to foreclosure and being forced into bankruptcy, Ms. Floor appears to be celebrating. Again, it's difficult to determine exactly what point Ms. Flood is trying to make with her comment above. Perhaps she will clarify what she means by her comment.
Richard Schulte March 17, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Are tax-payers upset about government employee salaries? Based upon the following, I'd say that yes, they most certainly are. "In a stunning recall election Tuesday, Miami-Dade voters recalled mayor Carlos Alvarez by a 9 to 1 margin. The mayor had pushed for a property tax hike and labor contracts with pay hikes for most county employees." Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/03/miamidade_voters_recall_bigspe.html Are some public school teachers in Illinois over-paid? There doesn't seem to be any doubt about that. And now you know why the state income tax was raised by 67 percent. Instead of raising taxes, why not simply get rid of all the "fat cat" teachers with their collective hands in our wallets? Once upon a time, teachers were underpaid, but that was 30 years ago. Now, some Illinois teachers make more money than Illinois primary care physicians. Something is wrong here when public school teachers make more money than doctors. Will Ms. Flood agree or disagree?
Richard Schulte March 18, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Teachers' compensation and the recent 67 percent increase state income tax, as well as the increase in the state corporate income tax, are all linked. The exodus from Illinois has already begun. A company in Crystal Lake has announced it's leaving for greener pastures, Wisconsin. That's 80 jobs lost with an average wage of $34.50 an hour ($5+ million in salaries annually). The company said that when it moves to Wisconsin, it plans to add another 25 workers. Do levels of taxation matter? What drives the level of taxation? Government employee compensation is one driver of taxation. How will state and local government pay all of those 6 figure teacher salaries and retirement benefits when Illinois taxpayers are all leaving for greener pastures? If there are no taxpayers left in Illinois, all of the retirement benefits promised to teachers will be just that, promises. A bankrupt state doesn't pay retirement benefits. The town of Prichard, Alabama promised its employees retirement benefits, but had to choose between keeping the street lights on or paying retirement benefits. Guess what happened? Politicians can make all the promises they want, but if there is no money to pay retirement benefits, there will be no retirement benefits paid. Can Illinois taxpayers really afford to pay teachers 6 figure salaries? Are teachers killing the goose that laid golden eggs? Common sense tells you the answer to both of those questions.
Matt March 18, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Richard, save your energy. Nobody is paying any attention to you at this point. This story was about people getting sick WEEKS ago, not everything you are ramblimg about. Move on to something new. Have you noticed yet that you are talking to yourself?? (eyes roll)
Richard Schulte March 18, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Matt, of course, you have no idea who reads these comments-you must have or you wouldn't have bothered to write the comment above. The "silent majority" doesn't comment, but they do read and absorb. As a teacher myself, I know that students listen, even if they don't ask questions or comment. (Every good teacher knows that.) I assume that your comment is your way of trying to prevent the facts from coming out. Nice try, but it didn't work. (smile) If you don't like my comments, you don't have to read them-that's the nice thing about the First Amendment. Sometimes facts are difficult, but they remain facts. Any teacher worth his or her salt still makes an effort.
Richard Schulte March 19, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Hmmm. . . .this from the NY Post just moments ago: "A whopping 78 percent of New York City voters said teacher layoffs should be based on performance, not the seniority-based "last-in, first out" law, a poll released today found." Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/localmajority_based_performance_york_mT8LRF5xbXjyRUY1EFyvSL#ixzz1H0OT6rG6 Maybe, just maybe, Evanston taxpayers actually do care about how their taxes are spent too. And maybe Evanston taxpayers also have opinions about whether 6 figure teachers' salaries and gold-plated health and retirement benefits are appropriate when many Evanston and Illinois residents are losing their homes to foreclosure and losing their lives to bankruptcy. Maybe we need a poll of Evanston residents on this subject! How about a Patch poll? My guess is that Evanston taxpayers would agree with New Yorkers.
Kit Sullivan March 19, 2011 at 04:09 PM
As a former (very former, 1970's CPS) school teacher I can only say that my experience with the teacher's union was depressing - I was on the job for two weeks and the union said - STRIKE!- and we were all told to walk the picket line. The only teachers who cared enough to stay on the job were the special ed teachers. I think the union ought to be cut back severely and teachers ought to be compensated on merit alone, with cost of living increases for time in. (Also, I hope the figures quoted are adjusted per annum.)
Emilie March 19, 2011 at 11:50 PM
Careful...If you are being over -taxed you might be accused of being sacastic and unreasonable. Please, is this your way of saying, "shut up and sit down?" Why can't Ms. flood have an opinion, ... like you?

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