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Fargo jail inmates get sick after evening meal; SD firm supplies food

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Health officials are investigating whether food poisoning caused more than 150 inmates at the Cass County Jail to get sick.

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said Monday that inmates began showing flu-like symptoms after their Sunday evening meal, which included a casserole made of chili, ground turkey and macaroni, corn, cornbread, whipped margarine, cookies and a powdered drink.

No inmates were hospitalized and most were feeling better by Monday afternoon, Laney said.

"We're already seeing a large number of the inmates eating lunch today," he said. "It appears to be passing very quickly."

Heidi McLean, chief nurse at the jail, said most of the inmates were being treated with fluids. "Hydration is the big key," she said. "Lots of Gatorade at this point."

Meals at the jail have been provided for the past five years by Sioux Falls-based CBM Food Services.

Laney said the company has a good record and health inspectors have reported no major violations.

Laney said the investigation will look into whether the illness was a result of an intentional act or whether it was caused by something other than tainted food. Some inmates help prepare the food but are closely monitored by staff, the sheriff said.

Food served over the last six days has been in storage and will be examined to be sure it does not contain "an issue that's causing this," Laney said.

Health inspectors will look into food delivery, storage and preparation, said Doug Jensen, spokesman for Fargo Cass Public Health.