UK: 40 police officers hit by food poisoning
Source of Article: http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2009/07/07/40-police-officers-hit-by-food-poisoning-97319-24093338/
MORE than 40 police officers in Birmingham were struck by suspected food poisoning as they marshalled a city centre demonstration, it emerged today.
They were hit by severe diarrhoea and vomiting and several needed hospital treatment for dehydration.
One police boss said some of them were “very, very ill”.
The poisoning is suspected to have come from chicken and stuffing sandwiches which they had eaten for lunch.
The lunches, which usually contain a sandwich, packet of crisps, chocolate bar and piece of fruit, were supplied by an outside contractor and handed to officers as normal when operational commitments prevent them from returning to the station to take a proper meal break.
Today, city environmental health officers were investigating. It is understood the sandwiches were delivered on Saturday morning before later being handed out to the officers as they prepared to police the demonstration which passed off peacefully.
Then, a number of officers stationed around New Street were taken ill. Passengers, shoppers and staff were evacuated from the train station amid fears of a serious incident.
Dozens of fireman, police and ambulance staff rushed to the scene as British Transport Police shut the station at about 5pm on the advice of health agencies. The station re-opened 50 minutes later.
West Midlands Police Federation chairman, Insp Andy Gilbert, said: “It was terrible and could have had very serious consequences. Some of the officers were very, very ill.
“The force did their very best to look after the officers at the time but we now need to establish what happened, when the packed lunches were delivered and where they were kept.
“There are going to be a number of lessons that need to be learned. There are some issues we need to look at regarding where packed lunches are being stored once delivered and when they are being carried by officers.
“It brings it home how something like this can effect police resilience. It’s important never to put ourselves in this position again.
“Environmental Health officers are carrying out an investigation. When we get their findings, when will decide what to do next.”
West Midlands Ambulance service said they treated nine officers at New Street Station for diarrhoea and vomiting and three were taken to City Hospital for treatment.
A West Midlands police spokesman said: “Following a successful policing operation in Birmingham city centre on Saturday, a number of police officers reported feeling ill.
“In excess of 40 police officers have complained of the effects of sickness, with several requiring hospital treatment for dehydration.
“No officers were admitted overnight and most staff have now returned to work.
“The cause of the sickness is currently unknown but is suspected to be food poisoning as a result of packed lunches issued to officers during the course of the operation.
“The incident has been formally reported to Environmental Health who will conduct their own independent enquiry into the matter.”
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