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Ember Inns pub under investigation for Xmas Day food poisoning outbreak

By Gurjit Degun , 04-Jan-2013
Last updated on 04-Jan-2013 at 17:54 GMT2013-01-04T17:54:28Z

Ember Inns pub the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, Essex, is under investigation after an alleged food poisoning incident on Christmas Day in which one person admitted to hospital later died.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that approximately 30 people reported symptoms of “gastrointestinal illness” after eating at the Mitchells & Butlers-branded venue on 25 December 2012.

It added: “Laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of clostridium perfringens bacteria in a number of samples submitted by those experiencing symptoms, including the patient who died.”

Dr Deborah Turbitt, director of the HPA’s local Health Protection Unit, said: “Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time. We have been working with Environmental Health Officers at Havering Council to identify the cause of illness and any links to food eaten at the venue. The venue has been cooperating fully with our investigations.

“Clostridium perfringens bacteria are the third most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and this mostly occurs in relation to red meat or poultry. Indications suggest that this outbreak is an isolated event.

“People become unwell on average after about 12 hours of eating food contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, with diarrhoea and abdominal pain being the main symptoms. The illness generally lasts no more than a few days although vulnerable groups such as very young children, elderly people, and those with underlying health problems can be more seriously affected. It is rare for a person to die as a direct result of food poisoning.”

A Havering Council spokesperson added: “Our initial findings indicate that this seems to be a serious but isolated incident and the venue is cooperating fully with the investigation. Our officers conducted a second site visit yesterday to gather further evidence and statements from employees.”

A Mitchells & Butlers spokesman said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family at this difficult time. The local authority, assisted by the Health Protection Agency, are currently investigating an alleged food poisoning outbreak at the Railway. We are fully co-operating with the Environmental Health and Health Protection Agency teams while they conduct a thorough investigation; however until this investigation is complete we can't speculate about the possible cause or source."

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