Health authorities say almost everyone who ate at a new Canberra restaurant last weekend has become unwell.

There are now at least 100 people affected by Canberra's worst food poisoning outbreak, with 15 people admitted to hospital after eating at the restaurant.

The people became ill with salmonella poisoning after eating at The Copa Brazilian Churrasco restaurant in Dickson at the weekend.

Dozens of its customers presented to hospital with symptoms of salmonella poisoning, including diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever.

Sick patrons have swamped emergency departments and the Canberra Hospital has called in extra staff to deal with the outbreak.

ACT Health is also investigating a second and unrelated food poisoning outbreak at an unnamed venue in Canberra's south.

It says 60 patrons have come down with gastroenteritis, but their symptoms are not severe.

Both venues remain closed.

Dr Robert Honeybone says he and nine companions are among those who've become sick after eating at The Copa.

"They are expecting some form of compensation or another, whether it be from the restaurant or legally," he said.

ACT chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly says hospitals have activated emergency response plans and the Health Emergency Operations Centre at Holder is coordinating the response.

"It's put a lot of stress on the emergency department. The emergency departments of both hospitals have been extremely busy over the last month so to have something like this really tests that system," he said.

"We have a winter plan which we envisioned using for influenza. So it's good to see them actually working."

He says they expect there will be more cases.

"We have the booking list from the restaurant and contact numbers," Dr Kelly said.

"There's still a number of groups we haven't contacted. There was quite a large number of people at this restaurant over the weekend."

Buffet dilemma

Dr Kelly says ACT Health investigators are working closely with the restaurant's staff to identify the cause.

"The issue with this particular restaurant being buffet style is that pretty much everyone ate everything," he said.

"When we normally do these type of outbreak investigations it becomes quite clear fairly early on that it's a particular food that's the problem and we can deal with that.

"This is a bit more complex because there's a whole range of meats, and sauces, and salads and it seems everyone ate everything.

"Everything is actually of a good standard at the restaurant, so it's probably something related to the food that's come in or the way the food's been prepared."

In the second case, Dr Kelly says they are yet to determine the source of the food poisoning.

He says not everyone ate the food they suspect was the problem.

"The other one has been a short duration, much milder illness, still taking it seriously but it's essentially come and gone whereas we need to make sure that with the salmonella outbreak that we've prevented that into the future," he said.

Dr Kelly has again urged anyone with gastroenteritis symptoms to contact their GP.

 

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