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Police searches kindergarten after mass E. coli outbreak

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The police Monday raided a kindergarten in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, as part of an investigation into mass food poisoning that has sickened some 114 people so far.

The Ansan Sangrok Police Station searched the kindergarten for about two hours, and seized CCTV footage and documents after parents of the pupils filed a complaint against the head of the kindergarten Saturday.

The police are to look into why the kindergarten that failed preserve samples food or snacks it provided to the pupils. Under local health regulations, catering facilities are required to freeze and store samples of snacks and food they serve for up to 144 hours to help trace causes in case food poisoning breaks out.

The police suspect the kindergarten intentionally did not keep the snacks provided to the students on six occasions between June 10 and 15, which could constitute destruction of evidence.

After a student at the kindergarten first showed symptoms of food poisoning on June 12, about 114 people showed symptoms of food poisoning, 58 of which tested positive for hemorrhaging E. coli bacteria and 21 of which were hospitalized, according to health authorities.

E. coli can be contracted from eating undercooked meat contaminated with the bacteria and can also be spread person-to-person.

Some 16 people are showing symptoms of hemolytic-uremic syndrome, also known as hamburger disease, which can cause severe kidney failure and may even be deadly. HUS is one of the complications caused by E. coli bacteria.

The head of the kindergarten was booked without detention on suspicion of sickening the pupils as a result of violating Food Sanitation Act and professional negligence.

The head of the kindergarten denied the suspicion in a written text message to the pupils’ parents, saying the institution did not get rid of the food intentionally.

The kindergarten remains closed until the end of this month.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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