Glenroy Sinclair and Claude Mills, Gleaner Writers
Executive Director of Food for the Poor, Bradley Finzi Smith (right) shows off the 'AdvantEdge Carb Control' drink, which allegedly killed at least three persons from the Walkers Avenue community of Gregory Park. - NORMAN GRINDLEY /DEPUTY CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
A THIRD person died yesterday of complications from infections resulting from a suspected case of food poisoning.
He has been identified as Denver Taylor, a resident of Gregory Park, St. Catherine, who was transferred on Tuesday from the Spanish Town Hospital to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH).
Executive Director of Food for the Poor, Bradley Finzi-Smith, disclosed that his organisation was scrambling to recall 124,000 packets of nutritious drinks distributed islandwide since last month. He made the announcement during a press conference at the organisation's Spanish Town-based headquarters in St. Catherine.
EXPIRY DATES NOT AN ISSUE
Mr. Finzi-Smith dismissed reports that the products had expired, saying that "only 2005-2006 dated products" are brought into the island by the organisation.
According to Mr. Smith, 864 packets of the fruit flavoured drink, 'AdvantEdge Carb Control' were given to their agent in the Gregory Park area to be distributed throughout the community.
"The majority of the drinks have been consumed already and the persons who drank them, including our staff members, are in good health," said Mr. Smith.
In the meantime, the death count has jumped to three.
Yesterday, angry residents mounted a roadblock in the area to protest the deaths.
In the meantime, health department officials, including Dr. Erica Reynolds Hedmann of the Surveillance Unit in the Ministry of Health, were out in the field yesterday conducting investigations.
Food samples have been sent to a private laboratory for tests to determine the exact cause of the illness. People who drank the substance and became ill are being encouraged to contact their local health department to report their symptoms.
On Sunday night, 14-year-old Lisa Moncrieffe, a student of Braeton Primary and Junior High, along with her cousin, Keibian, died after complaining of chest and stomach pains for several days.
Mr. Smith showed a copy of a bill of lading that showed that the drinks arrived in the island on September 15 and left Food for the Poor's warehouse on October 24, to be distributed to over 4,000 institutions islandwide.
CHECKED BY AUTHORITIES
Prior to leaving the warehouse, Mr. Smith said the products were checked by the relevant authorities. He presented a certificate issued under the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Act, which indicated that a container with the products was detained and released on October 24. It was checked by one Edmond Miller, a public health inspector.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica yesterday said, it is working in collaboration with the Health Ministry and other agencies to investigate the cases of alleged poisoning.
Manager of Standardisation at the Bureau, Gladstone Rose, said that "all food items are checked against relevant label standards." "We check the matter of coding, and to ensure the code is first, decipherable, not outdated, and all relevant labelling information, as prescribed by our labelling requirements, are met," Mr. Rose said.