Huguette banquets: “We threw everything away and cleaned up”
“We are sorry,” said Robert Labrecque, former owner of Banquets Huguette and father of the current owner, about the crisis that has been shaking the business for the past few days.
The e 28 December, the regional catering came under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, as hundreds of people mentioned on Facebook have been ill after eating the food served by the caterer.
According to Robert Labrecque, the epidemic was caused by a gastrointestinal virus whose origin is unknown. “We don’t know more than you do, no more than the MAPAQ (Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food). We know it’s the gastro virus, not a bacterium, but where does it come from? It could be a delivery man who had the virus and who was in contact with food, an employee. We don’t know, ”says Mr. Labrecque.
In 55 years of existence, this is the first time that the caterer Banquets Huguette has found himself at the heart of such a controversy. The company received a visit from a MAPAQ inspector on December 17, just a few days before events happened. “We have a low-medium risk rating,” says Mr. Labrecque. So, the MAPAQ, we see it once every three years. ”
The ex-owner also ensures to be in constant communication with a provincial representative of the ministry, and this, since the beginnings of the business. Mr. Labrecque says that the production of buffets has never stopped, since sanitation was carried out at the request of MAPAQ. “We never stopped, there was sanitation, so we threw everything away and cleaned it up, then we got the OK from MAPAQ to continue. ”
Asked why the first complaints received by customers did not stop the production of food, Robert Labrecque indicated that he was not aware of the situation until notified by the MAPAQ. “We [then] knew that there were complaints, 31 complaints, by the MAPAQ. ”
If several people have expressed their dissatisfaction via the company’s Facebook page, Mr. Labrecque indicates that he never had a Facebook page. “The Huguette Banquets page was opened by a former employee, who may have closed it when he saw how big it was, but we never opened a Facebook page. ”
In the same vein, Robert Labrecque deplores certain false information that circulates on social media. “I saw a lady complain about being sick after eating macaroni salad, but we don’t even produce it. ”
Mr. Labrecque wants to reassure the population and ensures that certain measures will be put in place so that the situation does not happen again next year. He confirmed that the company will continue its activities, despite the regrettable situation that has arisen. “It doesn’t do anyone any good, that’s for sure, but we will continue. We’ve been here for 55 years, he commented. We are the oldest caterer in Jonquière. This is the first time this has happened. It is not desirable, but it does happen. I am a registered dietitian, and it can happen, even in hospitals. “