Food poisoning traced to New York’s Putnam County Buddhist temple celebrating Mother’s Day struck at least 150 people last Sunday, including 20 visitors from New York’s Chinatown on a trip to Woodbury Common.
Eric Gross, spokesman for the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services, said the incident started at a Buddhist Day Garden Party at the Chuang-yen Temple in the town of Kent, where at least 700 people attended. An hour after lunch, 35 people were taken from the temple to hospitals in Carmel, Peekskill, and Poughkeepsie. Meanwhile, buses had already has taken off for Woodbury Common. According to Woodbury EMT, calls about people with flu-like symptoms—vomiting, diarrhea, and fever—began to come in from the shopping outlet after 3pm. 20 people were taken to several hospitals in the region.
Xan Xiang Wu, of Brooklyn, said that her mother and 21-month-old daughter fell ill after eating sticky rice at the monastery. Wu’s family was part of a 600-person, 10-bus tour that left Sunday morning and arrived at the monastery at 10am.
Putnam County Health Director Rebecca Wittenberg said on Monday that all but one person who experienced symptoms had been released from hospitals as of Monday afternoon. Twelve samples of food were taken from the temple and hand-delivered to an Albany region state lab for testing. State Health Department spokesman Peter Constantakes said they are assisting Putnam County health officials to determine the cause of the food poisoning. Because food was brought in by attendees to be shared and not served by a caterer or by the temple, a fine for Chuang-yen Temple would be unlikely but hasn’t been ruled out.
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