NJ troops get food poisoning at Capitol; congressman wants caterer fired
After 30 members of the New Jersey National Guard got food poisoning while on duty in Washington, D.C., a state congressman is calling on the food service company to be fired and investigated.
The issue came to light when a Michigan National Guard staff sergeant told Detroit's WXYZ-TV that metal shavings and undercooked food was found in 75 meals that made some guard members sick. The undercooked food sent a dozen soldiers to a hospital, the staff sergeant told WXYZ.
The Michigan National Guard in a statement to WXYX said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was assured by Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitney that the issue would be "addresses and corrected."
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, said that some members of the New Jersey National Guard vomited in the Senate parking lot after being similar "tainted and unhealthy food" served to the Michigan Guard.
"It is my understanding that Sardi's Catering currently has the contract for food service. This contract should be voided and a new provider of food needs to be found immediately. Furthermore the provision of this food, whether intentional or not, warrants a through investigation," Smith wrote in his letter.
He said that members of the Guard from New Jersey and elsewhere assigned to Washington "deserve meals that are absolutely safe and healthful."
Sardi's Catering said it prepackages its individual-serve meals and that deliveries are stamped with the time and date of when the food was packaged. Unused food is supposed to be discarded after four hours. The National Guard also inspects each delivery for distribution, the company said.
The company acknowledged that about 120 meals out of 1.2 million served so far this year have been reported as undercooked although the National Guard has not recorded any confirmed cases of food borne illnesses.
"It is not clear why or how one particular state unit has recorded so many complaints, while there have been comparatively few complaints from other state units, according to the National Guard," the company said Thursday in a written statement.
"We are a trusted family business and an institution in the Washington area, with a spotless reputation for quality, service, and integrity. The National Guard continues to closely monitor the quality and safety of meals provided to its personnel, and we are working closely with them to ensure our troops continue to have delicious and nutritious meals during their deployment to Washington.”
ABC News reported that two U.S. officials confirmed that Capitol police request the National Guard continue to have a presence in Washington for another 60 days. Members from around the country have been on duty since the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 300 members from New Jersey are still part of 5,200 Guard members from around the country.
Spokesmen for Smith's office and the New Jersey National Guard did not immediately return messages on Thursday afternoon.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to include a statement from the catering company.