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UNCOOKED curry leaves have been blamed for a sickness outbreak after a food festival in the North East. Over 400 people reported symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting after attending the Street Spice Festival in Newcastle earlier this year. Of those, 29 were confirmed as having various strains of salmonella and 25 of them a strain of bug that had not previously been identified in

among food handlers and the public about the potential for infection when using these products raw.” PHE has reported its 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. Bob Arora, one of the

organisers of the festival said: “During the last three and a half months we have co- operated fully with the investigation and would like to thank the Public Health England and Newcastle City Council for their thorough investigation into this outbreak. This has been a testing time for all concerned and we are

human or food samples in Britain. Public Health England (PHE) and Newcastle City Council say further laboratory analysis suggested that in addition to salmonella, other organisms may have caused illness including E.coli and Shigella. Some of the affected people were found to have more than one of these infections at the same time. Dr Kirsty Foster, consultant in health protection with PHE, said: “This was one of the largest outbreaks of gastro-intestinal illness associated with herbs or spices in the country. Herbs and spices are known to be potential sources of salmonella but it is unclear whether there is widespread understanding

satisfied that the levels of hygiene and quality standards that we set to all stall holders was adhered to.” The festival was held to raise funds and awareness for the Brain Tumour Charity, in aid of Kuly Ral, who unfortunately died of a brain tumour in 2012. The event itself raised in excess of £13,550.” Stephen Savage, Newcastle City Council’s director of regulation and public protection said: “We have carried out extensive investigations and tests and have identified the source of this outbreak. Having carefully considered the facts, we have decided against formal action in this case”. n

Demonstrators upset Minister’s curry lunch

IT is well known that Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, likes a good curry. But he recently got more than he bargained for when he turned up for Sunday lunch at the Mughal Dynasty restaurant in Maidstone for a Tory association fund-raiser, and found around 20 angry residents waving banners at him.

The protesters were part of the Save Oaken Wood campaign and blame Mr Pickles who, in his ministerial role, signed off on a controversial application to turn the 88-acre woodland over to become a quarry. Mr Pickles is reported to have avoided speaking to the campaigners and made straight for the restaurant and the waiting curry. Clearly it was too hot a topic for him to handle! n


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