Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "food poisoning" ...

  • Food Plight: Cafeteria Inspections Reveal Critical Health Violations at New York City Schools

    Our reporters scoured reams of health inspection records and discovered that nearly half of New York City public school cafeterias were hit with at least one critical violation in 2017. A closer look found that the four dozen schools with the worst inspections records largely serve some of the city’s poorest students. The most sickening cases include schools where 600 rodent droppings and 1,500 flies were found in food preparation and consumption areas – conditions that are breeding grounds for potentially dangerous food-borne illnesses. Our team of students conceived of the story and used the data, obtained from the New York City Health Department under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, to create a filterable interactive graphic that parents can use to uncover details of violations found at their child’s school.
  • A Game of Chicken

    Over the course of a decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had not one, not two, not three, but four opportunities to warn the public about salmonella outbreaks involving Foster Farms chicken. Each time, they hemmed and hawed, worrying more about the threat of legal action from a corporate giant than about protecting consumers. Health reporter Lynne Terry was the first journalist in America to identify and write about this alarming trend. With reporters from Frontline, The Center for Investigative Reporting and the New York Times circling around the story, she beat them all with a stunning and illuminating examination of the failures of the USDA. In her year-long investigation, Terry set out to determine if the USDA’s notoriously slow handling of a major salmonella outbreak in 2013-2014 was an isolated case. It wasn’t. She reviewed thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents dating back to 2003. What she found was disturbing: More than 1,000 people had rushed to their doctors with bouts of food poisoning. They had no idea what made them sick. But federal regulators did. Those same federal officials took virtually no steps to protect consumers from bad chicken. Health officials in Oregon and Washington had pushed vigorously for federal action, having identified clear and convincing evidence of problems. But the USDA wouldn’t budge. Terry’s meticulous reporting identified these themes: •USDA officials are afraid of lawsuits. The agency is so worried about being sued by companies that they’ve set an almost impossible bar for evidence, even rejecting samples of tainted chicken that state health agencies believed would help clinch their case. •Government inspectors are pressured to go easy on food processors. In one notable case, the USDA transferred an inspector after Foster Farms complained he wrote too many citations. •The USDA succumbed to further pressure from Foster Farms. After strong pushback from the company’s lawyers, the agency backed away from citing an unequivocal connection linking the company to a 2004 outbreak – even though the evidence pointed only to Foster Farms.
  • Kids at Peril: Dangerous School Food

    A look into the school cafeterias of the Houston Independent School District and poor conditions which the food is being stored. The 400,000 kids in the district are at risk for food-borne-illness or, in some cases, death. Kitchens did not keep track of the temperature of the food to prevent illness, but instead would not let food sit out for more than a four hour period.
  • Recipe for Trouble

    The authors investigated the role of food establishment inspectors and Pennsylvania's broken restaurant inspection system.
  • Keeping an Eye on the Kitchens

    Hayward examined health inspections for restaurants and grocers in Manchester, NH. He reported not only the scores of the restaurants, but also what inspectors look for and which violations are the most troublesome. He profiled an inspector, a restaurant that scores well on inspections, and one that does poorly.
  • ConAgra Meat Recall

    The Denver Post analyzes the "inner workings of an ongoing recall by the ConAgra Beef Co. In Greeley, CO, which first began as a modest 354,200-pound call back and expanded into the nation's second largest ever. The plant was later shuttered because of recurring problems with contamination. The stories examine... violations at the plant and secrets kept from the government, the USDA's gaff in delaying it's own findings and warnings to the company and public, the public's inability to learn whether they have contaminated meat, and ConAgra's broken promises to inform the public."
  • A Plateful of Trouble

    The Wichita Eagle's three-article report detailed: "how a number of restaurants repeatedly violate the health regulations considered most critical to customer safety, with little fear of fines or other disciplinary action; how state and local officials ignored a regulation calling for restaurants performing below a certain level to be shut down; how a 'grading card' system used in the city of Wichita is sometimes misleading to the public." "The Wichita Eagle used computer data to analyze more than 20,000 inspections of eating establishments in Kansas since the beginning of 1998, taking a closer look at those in Sedgwick County."
  • Shell Game?

    Dateline NBC's investigation reveals how month-old eggs were being repackaged, re-dated and sold as if they were fresh - misleading consumers and posing a significant threat to public health. The authors expose how loopholes in the law made this practice legal and widespread across the country. Health experts told Dateline that repackaging old eggs increased the risk of food poisoning from salmonella enteritidis. Officials at the centers for Disease Control told Dateline they estimate the "SE" from eggs sickens and kills more Americans each year than the much-publicized e.Coli in hamburger.
  • (Untitled)

    ABC employees went undercover wearing hidden cameras to work in fast food chain franchises with a long history of failing health inspections for serious health violations--the kind that can lead to food borne illness. ABC documented a lack of training in safe food handling and preparation, widespread ignorance of the sanitary code, routine health violations and lack of management oversight. (Sept. 27, 1995)
  • Not on the Menu

    WJXT investigation found nearly 400 Jacksonville area restaurants considered unsanitary by state standards. Investigation also found that inspectors hardly ever fine restaurants for health and safety violations, even after repeat citations. Inspectors were also unaware of a scoring system, based on their own reports, that the state uses to grade restaurants. (Feb. 2 - 3, 1995)