Newcastle Food Festival Illness Report ‘Provides Vital Answers To Victims’

Lawyers Call For More Comprehensive Food Hygiene Guidance

21.06.2013

By Rob Dixon

Legal experts representing dozens of victims of an illness outbreak linked to the Newcastle Street Spice event have urged authorities to ensure lessons are learned from the incident, after a new report confirmed that uncooked curry leaves were the cause of the outbreak.

Public Health England and Newcastle City Council have said in a joint report that the leaves, which were used raw in a chutney made available at the event between February 28th and March 2nd, were contaminated with several different bacteria.

More than 400 people reported symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting after attending the event at the city’s Centre for Life, with laboratory analysis confirming the presence of bacteria including salmonella, E.coli and shigella.

Illness experts at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, who act for dozens of people who fell ill following the festival have confirmed that some of their clients are continuing to suffer symptoms months after the event. The national law firm with offices around the country, including Newcastle, confirmed that they are continuing their own investigations said the results of their report are a vital step forward in their battle for justice on behalf of those affected.

Suki Chhokar, a Partner who specialises in illness claims at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The release of this report is an important moment and it does provide all of those affected, including our own clients, with many of the answers they have been looking for since they became ill.

“The Outbreak Control Team has reported their findings to the Food Standards Agency recommending that advice is developed for the food industry and the public about the use of raw curry leaves.

“A key aspect of this will be the review and improvement of food hygiene guidelines and crucially specific guidance in relation to this type of food stuff to ensure that proprietors are fully aware of the risks when using foods for which there are no official preparation guidelines. It is imperative that they take all of the relevant precautions to ensure that food is fit for consumption when faced with such a situation, as the consequences of not doing so can be very serious, as seen in this case.

Suki added: “Through our work in relation to this outbreak, as well as other major cases of this kind both in the UK and abroad, we have seen how the impact of these kinds of problems can often be underestimated. Gastric illness can have a long-lasting effect, often leaving people with permanent issues such as irritable bowel syndrome.”

“We remain determined to ensure that all of those affected who have asked us for help will gain the justice that they deserve following the illnesses that they have suffered, and in, some cases, continue to suffer.”

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