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Answers Over Newcastle Food Festival Outbreak ‘Cannot Come Soon Enough’

Specialists Contacted By Victims of Illness Outbreak Continue Search For Answers


By Rob Dixon

Expert lawyers representing dozens of people who suffered illness after attending a recent food festival in Newcastle are calling for public health authorities to release vital information about its investigation as they continue in their efforts to gain justice on behalf of the victims.

Authorities stated more than 300 people are believed to have reported illness in relation to the Street Spice event at the city’s Centre for Life which ran from February 28th until March 2nd with a number of samples testing positive for the serious bacterial infection, Salmonella.

At the end of last month, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) stated it believed the source of the problems had been identified but added it was working with Newcastle Council to consider whether breaches in relation to food safety had been committed.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist illness team are currently investigating claims for over 30 people who fell ill following the festival. The law firm is continuing its own investigations in relation to the problems.

However, the legal specialists are now calling on the HPA, which from the start of April 2013 became part of Public Health England, to provide a further update on its investigations and confirm the source of the illness - a move which will allow the legal experts to continue their fight for justice for their clients.

Suki Chhokar, a Partner who specialises in illness claims at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Around eight weeks have passed since the first reports of a suspected outbreak emerged in relation to the Street Spice event and we have now heard numerous stories of how people’s lives have been affected following their visit to the event.

“However, while authorities have acknowledged our concerns by letter and advised our clients that the source has been identified, our clients are still eagerly awaiting the formal outcome of the investigations and final answers about what happened.

“We know first-hand from many other illness cases we have been involved in, including the major Legionnaires’ outbreak in Edinburgh last year, how frustrating a lack of information can be to those affected by problems.

“All of the families affected by this outbreak of illness want to know how they came to be affected and, most importantly, want steps need to be taken to prevent such problems from happening again.

“Authorities have said the formal report will follow the ongoing investigations, and its release simply cannot come soon enough.”

Jennifer Jennings, from Wallsend, visited the Street Spice Festival on March 2nd but began to suffer diarrhoea, abdominal pains and vomiting just a day later. She continues to suffer from stomach cramps when eating.

The 28-year-old, Sales Associate said: “The illness I’ve suffered has undoubtedly been one of the worst experiences of my life and I wouldn’t wish the pain I’ve been in on anyone.

“One of the only comforts I take from this is that my three-year-old daughter was not with me when I visited the festival. I genuinely dread to think how she would have been affected by this illness.”

Kerry Goodson, 32, from Wallsend, also suffered similar symptoms after attending the Street Spice Festival. Commenting on her experience, she said; “This has really impacted on my life as I’ve had to take time off work because of this awful illness.

“Visiting the festival on the day was fun but it has now become memorable for all of the wrong reasons. I just want answers over what happened and to know why my life’s been affected by this.”

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