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More than 50 suffer food poisoning at Utah homeless shelter

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About 55 people, including some children, fell ill with suspected food poisoning at a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City on the weekend, and authorities were investigating the source of the illness, officials said on Monday.

Ambulances and a bus were sent to the shelter on Sunday to take those sickened to local hospitals, where they reported nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay.

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All were later released after being treated in emergency rooms.

A telephone call to the Road Home shelter was not returned on Monday. The shelter is divided into two sections: one for single men and women and another for families. The latter have kitchens used by the occupants.

Ilene Risk, an epidemiologist at the Salt Lake County Department of Health, said those who check into Road Home often get food at a nearby soup kitchen and from other such facilities in the city.

The source of the contamination could not be immediately identified but is being investigated, she said.

Food can be contaminated by pathogens related to temperature, environmental contamination and unclean containers, among other causes, Risk said.

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Under Utah law, charitable organizations that provide food to disadvantaged groups are not required to have food-handling permits.

(Reporting by Peg McEntee; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

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