Survey to try and find source of Street Spice event sickness

VISITORS to a street food festival at the centre of a salmonella food poisoning probe are now being quizzed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

VISITORS to a street food festival at the centre of a salmonella food poisoning probe are now being quizzed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

A survey set up by the organisation to help Newcastle City Council investigate the matter is now available online and aims to track what people ate.

A total of 342 people have now reported sickness symptoms after eating at the Street Spice event at the Centre for Life in Newcastle – with 14 samples testing positive for salmonella bacteria.

The survey asks visitors to the event to list what time they attended, to pin-point the stalls where they ate and to say if they have had vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal symptoms afterward.

The survey takes 10 minutes to complete and its results will be analysed by officers investigating the outbreak, although Newcastle City Council have said they might never be able to identify the exact cause.

A statement on the online survey site said: “This questionnaire is to help the Health Protection Agency and Newcastle City Council investigate the cases of gastrointestinal illness following the Street Spice Food Festival held between the 28th of February and 2nd of March.

“It is important that we collect information from all attendees, including people with symptoms and those without. This is to try to find the cause of the illness with the hope that we may be able to prevent illness in the future.”

A total of three vendors are highlighted in this questionnaire directly – and the survey goes on to list a further 17 businesses asking for details of what people ate.

“We would not expect illness to be associated with all vendors but it is important to ascertain as much information as we can about each of them,” said the HPA comment.

One victim, a doctor who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Tests came back to say I had salmonella. I was ill for about eight days and was left feeling quite debilitated and my partner was exactly the same.

“I’ve had regular contact with the Environmental Health officers from the start and the response has been good and the council are taking it seriously.

“This isn’t a storm in a tea-cup, things like Twitter have given people the chance to voice that they’ve been ill rather than them being left thinking it was only them.”

Organiser Bob Arora of popular restaurant Sachins, on Forth Banks, Newcastle, said that learning of the outbreak had been “the worst” time of his life.

He said the event had ticked all the boxes in terms of food hygiene, and stall holders were all extremely experienced.

To fill in the survey go to www.hpa-sur veys.org.uk/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID= 76KMnlm5

I was ill for eight days and was left feeling quite debilitated and my partner was the same

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