News

Public Health Investigating The Piazza

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published November 18, 2006

(This blog entry has been updated)

Hamilton Public Health is investigating The Piazza.

More than two dozen employees of the Hamilton CCAC called in sick to work after a catered luncheon by Carmen's the day prior. The catered lunch on Tuesday is suspected as the cause of the cluster of similar illness symptoms.

As a result of the Public Health investigation, events at Carmen's Piazza this weekend have been cancelled.

Update: This blog entry originally identified the business as "Carmen's Piazza". The correct name is "The Piazza". The two businesses are not affiliated -Ed.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

26 Comments

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 18, 2006 at 18:14:30

and this is on the Hammerblog because?.....

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 18, 2006 at 18:35:32

Cuz it's news.

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By (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2006 at 10:32:32

Where did you get this info? I have not heard it on the news or seen it on any of the news web sites by Sunday morning. I was at Carmen's on Friday night and it and the Piazza where over flowing with people.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2006 at 13:58:48

haha....stupid me. I thought you were talking about a pizza joint...not PIAZZA. They're a pretty big operation. I'm sure it'll be on the news soon. Remember the RBG contaimination. I don't think the news can ignore a story like this at a prominent entertainment/wedding centre.

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By (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2006 at 14:33:01

There was a planned staff christmas party that i was to attend on Saturday night at Carmen's. I was told it was cancelled because staff was being interviewed by Public Health officials and therefore Carmen's couldn't staff the party.

You would think that since RBG caterers would show extra dilligence.

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2006 at 16:22:43

I can't see public health officials working on a Saturday night almost a week after the fact. They are civil servants and the city does not like to pay over time.

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By trey (registered) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 09:16:44

Public Health probing food borne illness Nov, 20 2006 HAMILTON (AM900 CHML) - Hamilton's public health department says up to 100 people who ate at a banquet hall may have been hit by a food borne illness.

They are investigating five separate functions which either took place at the Piazza Banquet Centre on Anchor Road or were catered by them last week.

About 140 people were supplied with food from the banquet centre.

At least 25 people from a Dofasco party got sick, most aged 60 and above.

The health department says several people from each of the other functions have also come down with the illness.

Symptoms of the sickness include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

They believe the source is viral and not a result of food bacteria.

More tests are being done, and results are expected by the middle of the week

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By trey (registered) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 09:18:13

No warning from health department Nov, 20 2006 - 4:00 AM

HAMILTON (AM900 CHML) - Public health officials say it wasn't necessary to notify the public about the outbreak because the situation was contained and under control.

The city's health department was originally contacted on Wednesday about people getting sick, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon that the kitchen at the banquet hall was shut down.

The co-owner of the centre says they have complied with all of the health department recommendations, and the kitchen should be up and running today.

Any food prepared during the weekend was made by banquet hall staff off site.

This is the second time in months, city officials have failed to notify the public about an outbreak.

Some similar happened during the legionnaires outbreak this past summer.

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By Carstar (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 09:26:46

It's no wonder the reputation of 'corruption' dogs this city. Public Health said they believed it was Viral? Then how could it be under control? If it swept through that many people that fast and then they go home etc and pass on to the rest of the population, that it is not a contained virus. "Public" ahem Health was notified on Wednesday and allowed Carmen's to keep operating until Friday is not what I would call putting the public's health as a priority. It's what I would call putting the reputation of Carmen's ahead of public safety. How is this Ornella Tolomeo, manager of the infectious disease program for the city is still in charge of our PUBLIC HEALTH? Who is she related to in the Mercanti family?

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By trey (registered) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 09:32:41

No warning from health department Nov, 20 2006 - 4:00 AM

HAMILTON (AM900 CHML) - Public health officials say it wasn't necessary to notify the public about the outbreak because the situation was contained and under control.

The city's health department was originally contacted on Wednesday about people getting sick, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon that the kitchen at the banquet hall was shut down.

The co-owner of the centre says they have complied with all of the health department recommendations, and the kitchen should be up and running today.

Any food prepared during the weekend was made by banquet hall staff off site.

This is the second time in months, city officials have failed to notify the public about an outbreak.

Some similar happened during the legionnaires outbreak this past summer.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 09:42:43

a friend on mine worked at the RBG back when they poisoned people. in fairness, it has nothing to do with the RBG but has everything to do with their former-caterer, Compton and Greenland. incidentally, the former owner now runs bistro parisienne on james south. be afraid. anyway, if you knew the kinds of things they were doing at the RBG where food storage and preparation were concerned you'd never eat out again.

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By A Robot (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2006 at 21:30:40

Come on, it was only two days between the first illnesses and closure. Do you expect them to immediately bring the axe down on every restaurant that just happened to have a few sick patrons?

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By cough cough (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2006 at 09:10:02

a few sick patrons?!? more than 75 people are ill. i worked in restaurants for years and that doesn't happen unless your not handling food properly.

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2006 at 14:35:18

I can understand why Public Health did not notify the public on this. The media has dead lines and can not wait for the whole story. It may not be exciting enough for a story when the whole story is known. The public takes this half story and takes their only reality that they know, TV and makes it out to be bigger story than it is. According to some news casts, it has been narrowed down to either a staff member or a patron that started it. They are not even talking about it on some stations because it is not as big a story as they thought.

The norovirus would be very hard for anyone to notice. The only way to prevent it is to have sick employee not come to work or sick patrons stay home. May daughter worked for a food preparation company for a year and got the flu once. They told her they did not care if she was sick and would prefer her to come in to work. Even after the most meticulous cleaning, everything in a place could be contaminated the first time someone contaminated touches an item or food.

Who knows? The person that was the original contaminator could have been someone fresh from a cruise ship that is very popular at an event and with poor hygiene. There was just a large out break on a Carnival Cruise ship in the past two weeks.

The public like to panic like they are taught on TV to do. To prematurely report something and ruin one or more company business when it was out of there control, would be irresponsible and may take the blame from the real culprit. Anyone remember the Hershey story last week when they shut down production and recalled a lot of product? It turned out the problem was with one ingredient from one small supplier and out of Hershey’s control. That did not make much of a splash in the news as the original story as it was not a sexy big story as “Hershey”.

I have included some of the latest items and some info from the CDC and Public Health Canada.

900 CHML

Officials confirmed yesterday that a person who became sick after attending an event at the Piazza Banquet Centre on Anchor Road was infected with norovirus, the name for a group of viruses which cause gastroenteritis.

Dr. Matthew Hodge, associate medical officer of health for the city, said there was no need to notify the public because the situation was being controlled and publicity would not have advanced the health department's investigation.

CDC - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How do people become infected with noroviruses?
Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:
• eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus;
• touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth;
• having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, a hand shake, touching a contaminated door knob, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).

Are noroviruses contagious?
Noroviruses are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Both stool and vomit are infectious. Particular care should be taken with young children in diapers who may have diarrhea. How long are people contagious?
People infected with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least 3 days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as 2 weeks after recovery. Therefore, it is particularly important for people to use good hand washing and other hygienic practices after they have recently recovered from norovirus illness.

Who gets norovirus infection?
Anyone can become infected with these viruses. There are many different strains of norovirus, which makes it difficult for a person’s body to develop long-lasting immunity. Therefore, norovirus illness can recur throughout a person’s lifetime. In addition, because of differences in genetic factors, some people are more likely to become infected and develop more severe illness than others.

Public Health Agency of Canada

What causes infection with noroviruses?
People carry noroviruses, which are found in the stool or vomit of infected individuals, while they are ill and up to at least three or four days after recovery. Some people may be contagious for as long as two weeks after recovery. People are usually infected with noroviruses by direct contact with a person who is ill or has recently been ill or through indirect contact by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, like door handles or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

The virus is able to survive relatively high levels of chlorine and varying temperatures and can survive on hard surfaces in the environment for up to 12 hours. It has been found to survive on contaminated carpet for up to 12 days. Noroviruses are easily transmitted in environments where people are in close contact, including schools, day-care centres, long-term care facilities, healthcare facilities and cruise ships.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2006 at 16:02:38

Hi Rick,

I'm confused as to why so many posts are worrying so much about the food company. RTH is not out to 'get' anyone here. The reason we are advocating timely communication is because it is a matter of public safety - and that is paramount.

By delaying the reporting of a problem before the full extent of it is known Public Health could be allowing the problem to get worse. Remember SARS? Just because this event ended up being 'small' and contained (no consolation to the 90 or so poor sods who got sick...:) ) does not mean that an appropriate level of public communication of the incident should not have been undertaken.

The public needs to know - that's why we have a Public Health Dept!

I do have sympathy for the company involved. However - food is their business and as a result they understand full well that public safety must come first, even if it means a potential damage to their business. With this in mind it is clearly imperitive for Public Health to communicate the alert in a sensitive and factual/non-alarmist manner, appropriate to the information at hand - but the important thing is that it must be communicated soon and effectively.

Another reason for RTH's sensitivity to this (and what should be all of our's sensitivity to this) is the recent lack of communication over the Legionnaire's outbreak. The public has a right to know - a need to know - if there is a potential public health issue in our midst, and if our Public Health Dept is not doing a good enough job looking out for us and giving us the info we need then they need to be held to account.

Ben

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By stool man (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2006 at 09:40:36

So a sick food handler at Piazza Banquet Hall, took a shit, wiped his ass, then made everyone sangwiches without washing his hands. Nice. Who do I call to book my next function there with the in-laws?

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By (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2006 at 09:43:56

By the way. Norovirus spreads from person to person, so it couldn't of been a controlled situation. Canada has 300-400 norovirus (a strain of Norwalk virus) a year. This incident is alredy up to 85. A full quarter of Canada's total cases are a result of this.

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2006 at 11:12:53

Just a correction on the title of this blog. Carmen's does not own the Piazza anymore. They sold it to some a few months ago.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2006 at 11:21:43

hi Rick Do you know who the new owners are by chance??

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By Rick (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2006 at 16:36:27

The owners of La Piazza are Rob & Mark Silenazi and bought it about 2 years ago. There is no affiliation whatsoever with Carmen's or the Mercanti family.

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By Mr.G (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2007 at 16:11:56

Just thought id say that my wedding is at the piazza. Im not too concerned. The hall called me within 2 days of this incident to inform me of this. I thought it was pretty responsible. But really what does any hall expect when they hire young adults/students to serve/prepare food. Their young, they need money and could care less if they cough on someones food. Im sure McDonalds and Burger King have had their fair share..people just dont mention it cause its fast food. I've had food poisoning from Carmens and chandelier place (i was a dj at both)and it wasnt made public knowlege. Thinking about it now..there were quite a few sick from these 2 events.

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By Leave them alone (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2007 at 17:26:41

Why do you leave them alone no one remember that at Liuna Station just last year there were 300 people infected, what about Carmens lets be smart about they have had there fair share of unreported illness and for anyone who has a clue about food borne illness the flu will travel. They did a picnic and the food was not cooked,last year, what about food poisoning at the italian partk in binbrook-famme furlane it was not even reported, why not ! I was at a function at the Piazza and it was the only hall that would let you visit when they are preparing the food, does anyone else they do and they will even offer you a drink of pop .

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By CARMEN'S FOOD POISONING (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2007 at 20:51:14

CARMEN'S POISONED OVER 30 PEOPLE INCLUDING THE BRIDE AND GROOM BACK IN 2002 . IT WAS FRONT PAGE NEWS IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR AND IT PROMPTED THE NEW HEALTH ADVISORY NOTICE THAT YOU SEE ON ALL THE FRONT DOORS OF FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS.
THE WAY FOOD IS HANDLED THER AT CARMEN'S IS A JOKE AND NOW JUST ACROSS THE STREET FROM CARMEN'S YOU HAVE ANOTHER CASE OF FOOD POISONING. WHAT IS GOING ON? THERE SHOULD BE A PUBLIC INVESTIGATION INTO CARMEN'S AND THERE HALL ACROSS THE STREE "CARMEN'S AT LA PIAZZA".
PEOPLE BEWARE.

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By Anonymously (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2008 at 12:01:05

I just came across this page and I understand that it is over and done with. I just thought I would let everyone know that since the outbreak I think the Piazza is under new management, it is no longer owned by the Silenzi's. I had my wedding there Summer of 2007 and it was fabulous. The food, atomoshphere, and staff were impeccable. I hope everyone take this into consideration.

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By lkpt (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2008 at 20:24:40

Are these the same Silenzis from JS Foods ?

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By News Flash THEY DID NOTHING WRONG- (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2008 at 18:58:45

Well what can you expect from people in Hamilton, they take and listen to what they want and ignore the truth, the Piazza is and will always be a leader in the banquet industry in Hamilton, as they do more functions and serve more people than any other facility in the city, it is the only facility in the city that will allow you to visit there kitchen, I have been to functions from the Hamilton Conventon centre, Olympia,Michaelangelo,Winono Estates, Renaissance in hamilton the people and theoperators are hard working committed people each and everyone who enters the facilty is treated like a king and queen,the food is made fresh and is top quality, they buy from approved companies and not from uninspected meat plants

Lets be real people they did nothing wrong,it has happened to McMaster University,Dennigers in stoney creek a private school in hamilton, several places in the niagara and burlington area, and what about maple leaf foods the company and opereators did nothing wrong,lets remember that, the city and health department treated them harshly and if this was a little dump on barton street the spectator and chch would not have bothered with it, what about the guys who run out of the garages and serve in mail trucks are they regulated and watched and inspected, they always go for the big dog, I have had several functions throughout the city they have a great facility,great pricing, food and service, many large halls in the city are selling weddings for 59.99 all inclusive how can they be the same price as the piazza as they are smaller and do not have the operating costs as the large halls due, be afraid if large halls are the same as the piazza they will cut corners and purchase poor quality products so they can save money.Was this not the hall that reached out and help the Renaissance in June 2006 when the roof and building fell down,is this not the facility that helps many local childrens charities, is this not the hall that opens it doors to disadvantage youth is this not the only hall in the city that can accomadate and provide functions from 15 people to 300, is this not the hall that has catered many of the largiest functions in the city,like fortinos,bell, steel companies
Get over it and call this hall becasue you will not be disappointed
Stop the bad press and use your head,

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