Dozens of visitors to Newcastle´s 2013 Street Spice Festival have received compensation for food poisoning from street food sold at the event.
At the end of February 2013, more than 12,000 people attended the Newcastle Street Spice Festival – a non-profit event organised by a local restaurant owner to raise funds for a brain tumour charity. Sadly, one of the sixteen stallholders was serving a chutney that had been prepared with raw curry leaves, causing over 400 visitors to suffer gastric illnesses.
Almost fifty of those most seriously affected by illnesses claimed compensation for food poisoning from street food, including twenty-nine that had suffered the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning. Other claimants suffered symptoms caused by E.coli and Shigella poisoning – some of whom still suffer the consequences of eating the contaminated chutney three years after attending the event.
All of the injury claims have now been resolved, with settlements of compensation for food poisoning from street food ranging from £1,200 to £29,000 depending on the severity and impact of the individual´s illnesses. In total, the settlements have cost the event´s insurers more than £400,000 – an amount they intend to recover from the vendor of the curry leaves.
Speaking after the last of the claims had been settled, festival organiser Bob Arora told his local newspaper: “We are pleased that the matter has now been settled. As a result of our reporting of the outbreak to the Environmental Health Office and cooperating with their investigation fully, the EHO has been able to suggest changes in legislation in the use of curry leaves in order to prevent any further instances of food poisoning.”
He added: “Prior to the outbreak, the use of curry leaves in cooking was an extremely grey area, with no indication that raw leaves would be harmful to anyone’s health. Although the curry leaves were washed thoroughly prior to use by the vendors it was unfortunate that the contamination remained. Hopefully now that it has been clarified.”