Stomach bug floors 150 diners

INVESTIGATIONS are taking place today after claims that 150 people fell ill following a dinner at a top Suffolk hotel.Former World Cup referee Graham Poll was special guest speaker at the event at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell in Felixstowe with 200 people from the region's shipping industry attending.

INVESTIGATIONS are taking place today after claims that 150 people fell ill following a dinner at a top Suffolk hotel.

Former World Cup referee Graham Poll was special guest speaker at the event at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell in Felixstowe with 200 people from the region's shipping industry attending.

But a day after the meal people began suffering from a sudden and nasty gastric illness - diarrhoea and vomiting.

Environmental health officers have launched an investigation into alleged food poisoning but have stressed it could still prove to be another cause.

Mike Wackett , chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, said the event had been their annual dinner and had been a very successful and enjoyable evening.

“Last Saturday, the day after the dinner, I felt absolutely terrible - not just a jiffy tummy but something really horrible. I was dehydrated and still feel weak now,” he said.

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“But at first I put it down to too many late nights, that sort of thing.

“Then people who were at the dinner started e-mailing and saying they had had the same thing and the environmental health officers contacted me to interview me. It's been very disappointing and ruined what was a very successful evening.”

Mr Wackett said it appeared people on some tables had almost all been affected, yet on others no-one. On one table only those who ate vegetarian escaped and on another those who declined the prawn starter - but there was no obvious pattern.

He said he had heard that about 150 guests were left feeling ill after the meal.

Graham Sheppard, food safety consultant for Elizabeth Hotels Ltd, said the company was co-operating fully with Suffolk Coastal's environmental health officers' investigation.

“Some attendees at the dinner have alleged they suffered illness subsequent to the dinner. The investigation is still in its early stages and at this point there is nothing to suggest the cause is food borne. Winter vomiting disease, which is a possibility, is invariably not associated with food,” he said.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal said: “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.

“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.”

Were you at the event? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk