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Rancid, Expired Food Sickening People Across New York City's Homeless Shelters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered an investigation after residents of a Brooklyn homeless shelter got sick from eating rancid expired chicken, but that's not the only shelter where residents are being served inedible meals.

Wheelchair-bound Edna Smith has got the goods on the people who made her sick by serving rancid outdated chicken at the Fort Greene homeless shelter where she lives, reports CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer.

"Here is like the first label," she said.

The first label said the chicken salad would expire Oct. 31, but there was a second label underneath saying the chicken expired almost two months ago on Sept. 5.

She is one of about half a dozen shelter residents who got violently ill.

"I was the first one who vomited, it just hit me, I went into the lavatory and everything came out," said Smith. "When we all started getting sick, the response that we had was they all started laughing like it was a joke."

"This is horrific but frankly not surprising," said Giselle Routhier of the Coalition for the Homeless. "This is a really severe manifestation of a problem that's pretty widespread across the shelter system."

Routhier says bad food at city shelters is not limited to Edna's shelter.

Green eggs were served at the Bergen shelter, and again at Casa de Carina.

A breakfast plate at the Bergen shelter was served with what looks like undercooked bacon, a sandwich came with half a slice of dried-out bologna, a vegetarian plate was just three rolls and an unappetizing meat plate was served up at Wards Island.

"The quality of the food is something we continually hear problems about," said Routhier.

The food so bad that over 500 people signed a petition to Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steve Banks complaining of unsanitary food handling, uncooked food, frozen milk and rodents.

Are people getting this quality of food because they're being disrespected for being homeless?

"I think it's a great question because these are folks who are vulnerable who oftentimes don't have the voice or the power to say this is not right," said Routhier.

Kramer took the issue to Mayor Bill de Blasio, pointing out the vendor that holds a $35 million contract and was responsible for the rancid chicken had been cited by the FDA for unsanitary conditions.

"There has to be an investigation," said de Blasio.

What about the other vendors serving tainted food at the shelters?

"Again, it's not acceptable," said the mayor. "If proven this is something they knew about, didn't deal with or aren't able to deal with, they'll be out."

A spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services says the vendor responsible for the rancid chicken has been temporarily replaced pending a review, which includes looking at food deliveries made by the firm at six shelters to see if there is more expired food.

The agency had no response to the pictures of bad and tainted food served at other locations.

The vendors did not return calls for comment.

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