Investigation after hotel guests get ill

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after dozens of people fell ill following a function at a popular Suffolk hotel.Environmental health officers confirmed they are in the process of inspecting the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell, in Felixstowe.

Russell Claydon

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched after dozens of people fell ill following a function at a popular Suffolk hotel.

Environmental health officers confirmed they are in the process of inspecting the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell, in Felixstowe after receiving complaints that a large number of people had fallen ill with sickness and diarrhoea the day after they ate at the hotel.

The investigation is being carried out after the Chartered shipbrokers annual dinner took place at the hotel, with football referee Graham Poll as a speaker, on Friday. It is believed nearly 200 people were at the event.

Simon Underwood, from Goldstar Transport Ltd, one of the companies said to be affected, told the EADT he contacted Suffolk Coastal District Council's food and safety team after staff experienced short bouts of sickness and diarrhoea over the weekend.

A Suffolk Coastal spokesperson stressed food poisoning was not as yet the definitive answer, but was a possibility they were looking into.

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“We have received information about a number of people being ill in the last three days. Most people have suffered from a short illness of diarrhoea and vomiting and are now better.

“One common link is that they ate at a function at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell, Felixstowe on the evening of February 29, 2008.

“Members of the environmental health team at Suffolk Coastal have visited the premises, are conducting interviews with the cases and are thoroughly investigating this incident in partnership with the Suffolk Office of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Health Protection Unit and the Suffolk Primary Care Trust.

“While food poisoning could prove to be the cause of this incident, it should be stressed that it is just one of the possible explanations which are all being thoroughly investigated.”

A member at the dinner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I was ill myself and it was only Monday when we went back to work that we got the full picture of how many people were affected.

“It should be taken into serious consideration as it could be something that could affect other people.”

The council's environmental health team added: “We have found no reason at present why the hotel cannot carry on serving the public as normal.”

Graham Sheppard, food safety consultant for Elizabeth Hotels Ltd, said the company was co-operating fully with the investigation.

He said: “Some attendees at the dinner have alleged they suffered illness after the dinner. The investigation is still in its early stages and at this point there is nothing to suggest the cause is ford borne.

“Winter vomiting virus, which is a possibility, is invariably not associated with food.”

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