Screen shot 2011-02-17 at 5.48.44 AM.pngSalmonella has likely sickened more than 1,000 students and teachers in northern Japan. The outbreak, on the northern island of Hokkaido has led to at least a dozen children needing hospital treatment, with many other teachers and staff members also showing signs of being ill. So far, authorities believe that the outbreak may be traced to large central kitchens that deliver food daily to schools in the region with the likely culprit being Thursday’s meal — turnip with ground chicken, soybean soup with sliced potatoes, green salad, rice and milk.

School meals in Japan are typically prepared in large central kitchens and then delivered to schools–an efficient way to feed students but also to cause widespread foodborne illness. In 1996, an outbreak in Sakai City, Japan, sickened at least 9,441 and killed 12, most of them school children–the worst toll of any recorded outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. The source was believed to be contaminated radish sprouts.