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Download Music Festival Rocked by Food Poisoning Outbreak

Following reports of a wide-scale outbreak of food poisoning at the Castle Donnington event last weekend, Irwin Mitchell's specialist illness team has been instructed by heavy metal fans after two food vendors were reportedly shut down by the organisers. 

There have been allegations of dangerously undercooked food and the event’s organiser, Live Nation, have launched an investigation following the emergence of “a pattern” of gastric illness amongst festival goers.

Reports have suggested fans had to return home with others confined to their tents; a problem compounded by the muddy conditions at this year’s festival.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist public health solicitors have been contacted by revellers and are advising that anyone impacted should contact their GP for treatment and provide stool samples if requested, as the results may help to establish the cause of infection. 

To help with our own enquiries, we would be interested to hear from any of the 500+ people affected by illness at the festival as well as any of the musicians performing at the event.

The scale of the problems at the Download Festival, as reported to us, is only just coming to light. This music event catered for thousands of heavy metal fans and for Live Nation to close two food outlets down part way through the festival is concerning. 

The implications of ingesting food contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter can be devastating, particularly to those with weakened immune symptoms. It can lead to serious and prolonged health conditions. 

Tips to Avoid Illness at Festivals

The public health team at Irwin Mitchell have experience in helping people who have suffered illness as a result of contaminated food including those attending festivals. We encourage people to be wary of the risks associated with contaminated food and unsanitary hygiene conditions. With thousands attending music festivals during the summer months, we advise they take adequate precautions, and our tips for staying safe and enjoying the music are as follows:

  1. Plan ahead – think about whether festival food is the best option or whether to bring your own. If the weather is warm, bare in mind that unrefrigerated food kept at temperatures between 4 and 60 °C (known as the danger zone) provides the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria, such as, E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.   
  2. Think about where and what you buy – festivals have a vast number of food vendors, so choosing wisely can reduce your risk of food poisoning. Check if the vendor has a hygiene rating, looks clean and try to avoid high risk foods, such as, chicken and eggs.
  3. Choose food that is freshly cooked and avoid those outlets that prepare dishes in advance – it is better to spend time queuing for fresh food than spend time vomiting and experiencing diarrhoea. If the food looks like it has been left out for hours avoid it.
  4. If the food looks undercooked don’t risk it - undercooked meat and poultry are the main causes of food poisoning in the UK. Insist that the burgers are thoroughly cooked and avoid chicken which contains blood otherwise you are likely to be ill.
  5. Drink plenty of water or soft drinks - vast amounts of alcohol can cause dehydration particularly on hot summer days so avoid sickness by keeping plenty of water to hand.
  6. Don’t risk cross contamination by using antibacterial hand gel – general hygiene facilities at music festivals are in short supply with limited hand washing facilities in those portaloos! The oral-faecal route is a common cause of illness which is difficult to avoid but the sensible use of hand gel will provide some protection.
  7. Finally - Enjoy the music, listen and learn from other peoples mistakes - if others are complaining or advising you not to eat at certain food stalls because of substandard food, eat elsewhere!

To help with our own enquiries, we would be interested to hear from any of the 500+ people affected by illness at the festival as well as any of the musicians performing at the event.