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‘Food poisoning’ probe after woman died following Christmas Day meal at Hornchurch pub

17:09 02 January 2013

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch

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Health investigators are probing what caused a woman to become ill and die after eating a Christmas Day meal at a Hornchurch pub.

The victim, thought to be in her 40s, died on December 27 after dining with a group of around ten friends at the Railway Hotel, in Station Lane.

It is believed the woman, who has not been named, received medical treatment, but collapsed at home and died in hospital.

Unusual

Around 30 people reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness after eating at the venue on the same day.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA), an independent health body, is working with Havering Council’s Environmental Health Officers to identify what caused the alleged outbreak and whether there may be a link to any food consumed at the hotel.

A spokesman for the pub said it would be “wrong to speculate” what caused the illness until the investigation was complete.

Dr Deborah Turbitt, director of the HPA’s local Health Protection Unit, said: “Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.

“The venue is co-operating fully with our investigations and a site visit by Environmental Health has not identified any problems.

“The symptoms that have been reported in connection with this outbreak include diarrhoea, with or without vomiting.

“Most people reporting symptoms have recovered from the illness at home within a few days.

“Early indications suggest that this is an unusual and isolated event. However, we are awaiting laboratory results and further information from customers.”

She added: “Although food poisoning can be severe for vulnerable groups such as very young children, elderly people, and those with underlying health problems, it is rare for a person to die as a direct result of food poisoning.”

Havering Council’s Cllr Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for public protection, said: “I am very sorry to hear of this sad death and my thoughts are with the family at this time.

“Our officers have visited the premises and are content that it meets food safety regulations and that it can continue to serve food until the investigation is concluded.”

People who become unwell with symptoms of food poisoning are advised to drink plenty of fluids and take rest at home. If symptoms are particularly severe or do not settle within two days then they should seek medical advice.

A spokesman for Ember Inns, which runs the hotel, said: “We would like to reassure our guests that we prepare our food to the highest hygiene standards.

“Our kitchens are monitored regularly through internal checks and independent external audits. In fact the pub holds a five-star hygiene rating under the Food Standards Association (FSA) National Rating Scheme, the highest rating that can be awarded by the FSA.

“We are fully co-operating with the Environmental Health and Health Protection Agency teams while they conduct an investigation

“Environmental Health Officers have visited the pub since the alleged outbreak and are happy with the standards of hygiene at the Railway

“Until the investigation is complete it would be wrong to speculate as to the cause of the symptoms experienced by the guests who visited us.”

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