Food illness sickens 100+ at Georgia Aquarium

by: Jeff Dore Updated:

ATLANTA,None - Channel 2 Action News has learned health investigators are looking into why more than 100 people got sick at a major Atlanta attraction.

The one thing everyone had in common was they all ate catered food at the Georgia Aquarium over the summer.

In the week of July 24, three groups had catered events at the aquarium. Two had corporate conferences, and there was a wedding reception, officials said.

One or two weeks later people started coming down with week-long bouts of diarrhea.

The Georgia Division of Epidemiology said it is still investigating but told Channel 2’s Jeff Dore that Cyclospora made the people sick, totaling well over 100 guests and staff.

Officials said they haven't pinned the exact cause of the breakout, but did say the common food served at all three events was salad mix, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.

Wolfgang Puck catering prepares all the food at aquarium events, and its CEO took an overnight flight from California to talk with Channel 2.

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“The safety and health of our guests and employees is always our top priority. Every day, we practice the highest standards of safety,” Carl Schuster, Wolfgang Puck Catering CEO, said.

Schuster said they can only buy food from vendors who have been scrutinized and certified for food safety.

The Health Department said Cyclospora is relatively new in the American food chain.

Schuster said his company is waiting for reports from health officials to trace this contamination back to its source.

“Since 2005, we've served over a million guests at Georgia Aquarium and catering,” Schuster said.

It appears the entire outbreak was contained in the catered food they served at the aquarium that week in July. Officials said none of the illnesses was from the food court.