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Dozens ill after attending events at Duluth ballroom

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating the outbreak of a food-borne illness reported this week by people who attended two events at the Greysolon Ballroom in Duluth on Saturday.

The health department has identified more than 40 people who reported becoming ill after eating at the ballroom and "we suspect there could be more," said Doug Schultz of the department's communications office.

Schultz said the investigation is ongoing and people who reported becoming ill are still being interviewed. They primarily reported suffering stomach cramps and diarrhea.

About 250 people attended one event and 100 attended the other at the Greysolon, Schultz said. One was a wedding and the other a private party. The outbreak was first reported to the health department on Tuesday, he said. Neither St. Luke's hospital nor Essentia Health reported any emergency room visits from people suffering from food poisoning over the weekend.

Schultz said some people who became ill contacted the health department. The food was served by Greysolon Ballroom By Blackwoods and the business is cooperating with the investigation, he said.

"The investigation of the illness is done by the food-borne illness investigative staff, and our environmental health services section is working with the establishment to make sure that there is no further transmission," Schultz said.

As part of the investigation, investigators will check whether there are enough hand-washing sinks at the establishment, if the refrigeration temperatures are adequate and whether any employees have been ill.

Sean Stepan, controller for New London Corp., said he didn't have any independent information about the food-borne illness outbreak and was deferring to the health department.

New London Corp. is the parent company of Greysolon Ballroom By Blackwoods,

"It's all part of the health department investigation and they've made it very clear that it's in their hands," Stepan said.

The company that reportedly had its holiday party Saturday at the Greysolon Ballroom didn't return an e-mail and a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.