A report released by health officials this week concluded that raw curry leaves were the source of the outbreak at the Street Spice Festival in Newcastle in February and March.
However, Dinesh Rawlley, former executive chef and owner of Newcastle Indian restaurant Sachins, and top TV chef Cyrus Todiwala have questioned the report’s conclusions.
“I find this very hard to believe. I’ve been cooking with Indian spices for more than 30 years and I’ve never once heard of curry leaves causing salmonella. In my view, it is impossible.
“The curry leaves used at the Street Spice Festival would have been imported from abroad and were almost certainly part of a large shipment.
“If they were contaminated, then surely there would have been similar incidences of food poisoning in other parts of the country.”
Celebrity TV chef and apparent microbiological sleuth Cyrus Todiwala, who owns London’s acclaimed Café Spice Namasté, agreed.
Mr Todiwala, who was awarded the OBE in 2009 and appears on TV shows such as Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen said: “I’m not a scientist, but it’s my understanding that salmonella affects protein. How can it survive on a leaf?”