In a recent development, the central kitchen responsible for a significant E. coli outbreak in Calgary daycare communities earlier this month is facing charges under city bylaws for operating without a business license. The City of Calgary has taken action, issuing 12 charges to Fueling Minds, along with the kitchen operation’s two directors, under the Business Licensing Bylaw. These charges stem from the kitchen’s provision of third-party food services to five local childcare centers not owned by the company, without the necessary business license.
If found guilty, the fines could reach a substantial total of $120,000. This action comes after a thorough investigation by Calgary bylaw officers, initiated when news of the outbreak first surfaced.
It’s worth noting that the province is responsible for regulating and licensing commercial daycare centers, which includes oversight of food preparation and food services within these facilities. However, a local business license is a separate requirement for a third-party food services business.
Michael Briegel, the city’s deputy chief of business safety, emphasized the importance of proper licensing for businesses in Calgary, stating that it ensures a safer environment for both Calgarians and employees. He stressed that while most businesses comply, those that don’t may put people at risk, a matter taken very seriously by the City of Calgary.
As of the latest update
There have been 351 confirmed cases of E. coli infection, with 37 cases linked to secondary transmission. Regrettably, four children remain hospitalized.
In response to this crisis, Premier Danielle Smith has announced the establishment of a third-party panel, led by former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson. This panel will conduct a comprehensive review of the legislation and regulations governing food safety in the province. It will also include input from parents, childcare and food service operators, as well as food safety and public health experts.
Premier Smith highlighted the need for potential policy changes, such as making kitchen inspection reports available at daycares in addition to online postings, an idea raised by concerned parents who watched their children suffer from E. coli infection.
Furthermore, the province has introduced a compassionate payment program, offering a one-time $2,000 payment to parents whose children attended any of the 19 affected daycare facilities. Since its launch on Monday, the program has received 775 applications.
This situation underscores the critical importance of food safety and proper licensing in ensuring the well-being of the community, and it serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences when regulations are not followed diligently. The forthcoming panel’s work is expected to shed light on necessary policy changes to prevent such incidents in the future.