MCG function room to reopen after Anzac Day food poisoning

The Olympic Room will be up and running before this weekend’s AFL matches, with an event booked for this Wednesday to go ahead.

Guests had reported watching others collapse in the hours after an entree of chicken and rabbit terrine was served about 12.30pm before the Collingwood vs Essendon showdown last Thursday. Some people fell ill during the Anzac observance ceremony about 3.30pm.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire had described people «going down left, right and centre» during the national anthem.

«It was an amazing situation because people were literally, during the speeches, dropping like flies around us,» McGuire said.

«In fact at one point you could see people in the minute of silence trying to stand up and then when it got to the national anthem people were going down left, right and centre, so we were wondering what was going on.»

Thirty people were assessed by paramedics and seven were taken to hospital, where they were treated in emergency and discharged without being admitted.

DHHS acting chief health officer Dr Angie Bone on Friday said those affected would be asked for stool samples.

Department and City of Melbourne investigators would also take kitchen swabs and food samples to determine the cause of the outbreak, she said.

Dr Bone speculated it was most likely a toxin to blame, as opposed to a virus or bacteria, given it caused such a quick rejection.

«We can speculate the type of bug it was because the onset was so soon, so quick after eating and normally those are bugs that are associated with toxins,» Dr Bone said.

«There’s certain types of bugs such as staphylococcus that live on our skin which produce toxins, and so they can enter food from food handling and then you ingest the toxin itself and that’s why you get an immediate reaction.»

The investigation is expected to take weeks, and Dr Bone would not rule out penalties if handling or service breaches are found.

It has also emerged guests on a table in the Legend’s Room reported falling ill. This lunch was served by the same catering company, but was on a different menu to the Olympic room. It is not known if the illnesses are connected.

An MCC spokesman last week said they were investigating with the AFL and Essendon Football Club.

«The MCC can confirm that at [Thursday’s] game, a number of guests presented with gastro intestinal symptoms,» he said.

«The guests were all part of the official match day function in the Olympic Room, and incidents are localised to this room only within the stadium.

«We are currently investigating to determine the cause of these incidents. We are working in co-operation with health services and our partners to understand what caused the medical issues.

«If you were a guest in the Olympic Room and are experiencing gastro intestinal symptoms, then please seek medical attention if the symptoms are causing you distress.»

Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.

Zach is a breaking news reporter for The Age.

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