“We apologise unreservedly to all the children and their families,” the Hessian company Sodexo said in a statement, adding that all the children had now recovered. It did not provide any details about the compensation.
Sodexo’s statement is in contrast to an earlier one which questioned its responsibility for the sick children. “Less than five percent of all the schools we deliver to have sick children,” company spokesman Stephan Dürholt said on Friday, September 28.
“We presume that the cause of the illness is a norovirus outbreak, which we have nothing to do with,” Dürholt said. “The reason that almost all of the children ate food from our kitchens is simply because we deliver food to a lot of schools.”
The outbreak – the largest wave of gastro-intestinal disease caused by food ever recorded in Germany – has since been traced to a batch of frozen strawberry sauce imported from China.
That was the result of investigations carried out by the government-run Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. There are no indications that the infected sauce was sold in shops.
Sodexo said on Friday it would be reviewing all its suppliers, and will “immediately do everything technically and logistically possible” to prevent any incident like this in the future.
More than 11,000 people across several German states including Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia suffered vomiting and diarrhoea during last week’s outbreak.