Culinary Crisis— Bacteria and Food Poisoning

By Stephanie Huang ‘16Staff Writer

On Sept. 15, around 20 to 30 students from the Claremont Colleges reported signs of possible food poisoning or gastrointestinal illness, with the majority of cases stemming from Claremont McKenna College (CMC).

Although there is a rumor circulating that the students’ symptoms are the result of the stomach flu, the majority of students believe that they were subject to food poisoning.  Doctors have yet to confirm what the cause of the illness was, but many students with the illness had consumed a chicken avocado sandwich at Collins for lunch the day before.

Symptoms of the illness included nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and a sore throat.  “It was the worst night of my life. I was throwing up for eight hours straight; even when I took the tiniest sip of water, it would just come right back up,” said Stephen Spencer, (CMC ‘15).

Many other students showed similar symptoms, including Jason Harrington, (CMC ’16), and Richard Harris, (CMC ‘16).  Harris’ roommate, Camilo Vilaseca, (CMC ’16), contracted the illness around two to three days after Harrington. Vilaseca said, “I think it was probably food poisoning. I vomited Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, but it could have been a stomach bug because I got it after [Harris].”

Many students believe that an outbreak like this will not happen again.  “I’m so confident that the Student Health Services will spend a lot of time fixing [the problem] to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future—they are very competent,” said Harris.

Poultry and beef are known to be the most common sources of food poisoning, along with leafy greens.  To lower risks of food poisoning, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends keeping meat cooked to the required temperature, and adequately washing vegetables.