School food tested after 22 Portland students vomit

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PORTLAND — State and city health officials were investigating Friday after 22 students at Reiche Elementary School suddenly came down with a stomach ailment over the past week.

District food services officials have sent samples of the food served at the school to a state laboratory for testing, the results of which are pending, the Portland Public Schools announced in a news release.

The district stated in its release that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and city of Portland Health Division were notified because of “the unusual number of cases and presentation.”

The students each experienced upset stomachs and vomiting, but all 22 reported feeling improvements within hours and have since returned to school – 21 returned to classes the following day – the district stated.

State and city health officials inspected the department’s central kitchen and Reiche school, at 166 Brackett St. Four violations were found at the school, which were immediately corrected, the district stated.

The Reiche school was previously inspected in January, in 2014 and in 2010, and was found with no violations on those occasions.

Tina Veilleux, school nurse coordinator for the Portland Public Schools, said in the district’s Friday release the illnesses may not have been caused by food, noting that rounds of gastrointestinal infections strike nearly every year as well.

In a letter to parents, Veilleux urged parents to ensure their children wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and sneezes, and – if sick – stay home from school for at least 24 hours after symptoms subside.

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Twenty-two students at Reiche Elementary School in Portland suddenly became ill with a stomach ailment in the past week, prompting inspections by state and city health officials.

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