THUNDER BAY – “We value our customers. If there is any chance that something we are doing is causing harm to the people we care about, then we want to err on the side of caution and stop all catering, for now,” say Lisa and Dave Maltese, owners of Maltese Grocery. Maltese Grocery has been made aware of a number of illnesses that were reported to the Health Unit after some functions they had catered.
As a precaution, Maltese Grocery has decided to voluntarily suspend its catering operation pending the result of the Health Unit’s investigation.
Maltese Grocery is open for business as usual, only the external catering is temporarily affected.
“We serve 700 people per day on average,” Dave Maltese stated in an interview with NetNewsledger. “The integrity and quality of our service has been, and always will be our top priority,” added Lisa Maltese.
[pullquote] “Our family business has been operating in this community for over 8o years and in that time we have never had anything like this happen”[/pullquote]
“People have been calling, so many of our customers are sending flowers, and we are completely overwhelmed by the community support we are receiving”, shared Lisa Maltese. “The line-ups in the store are long, and the support for our staff has been incredible. One of our staff members has even tried to hand back their pay cheque to support us. Its Christmas and we handed it back to him”.
“The staff have been working until late, 3AM the other night staff were still hard at it making things better than perfect,” added Lisa. “Our customers are showing their support in ways and direct action that has our family and staff completely overwhelmed.”
There is even a blog started, to support the local iconic store.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit Director Ken Allan states, “Maltese Grocery has been working cooperatively with the Health Unit to help identify possible causes for the illnesses and eliminate potential health hazards to the public. “This vendor has a good inspection record and has a staff of knowledgeable food handlers.”
An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness which has caused sixty-seven people to become ill from consuming food late last week has been linked to social events catered by the locally owned company. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit became aware of the illness outbreak after attendees from catered social gatherings called to report symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and nausea after attending events which took place last Thursday (December 13) and Friday (December 14).
“Sales of over the counter meat products, as well as fresh turkeys, ham and produce are business as usual,” commented Allan. “These parts of the business are not affected.”
Public health inspectors are in the process of contacting individuals regarding this outbreak to determine what may be involved in causing the illnesses.
If an individual has not been contacted and consumed food provided by Maltese Grocery at a catered event held on Thursday, December 13 or Friday, December 14, they are asked to call the Health Unit. If people are experiencing symptoms, they should also visit a health care provider for treatment.
To speak with a public health inspector, please call 625-5930.
“Our family business has been operating in this community for over 80 years and in that time we have never had anything like this happen,” comment Lisa and Dave Maltese.