219 sick: Bognor Butlins holidaymakers in Norovirus legal action

Lawyers representing 219 people struck down by a highly contagious stomach bug at a Butlins holiday camp in West Sussex have started legal action.

The holidaymakers fell ill between May and July 2011 following a norovirus outbreak at the camp in Bognor Regis.

Irwin Mitchell solicitors said court proceedings had started following a denial of liability by Butlins’ parent company Bourne Leisure.

Butlins said: “We will robustly defend the speculative action.”

Amandeep Samra, from Irwin Mitchell, which is seeking compensation for its clients, said the court papers were being sent to Birmingham County Court where the case will be heard.

Among those taken ill were two groups from London – members of the Ealing Handicapped Irish Dancers and Mencap Hillingdon North.

Solicitors will argue they had been served undercooked food, and had seen pigeons on tables and flies on and around uncovered food.

They will also allege there were sewage smells around parts of the resort, and on occasions, the swimming pool was “cloudy with slime around the edges”.

A spokesman for Butlins at Bognor Regis said: “We operate our resorts to the highest health and safety standards and work closely with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that our guests’ safety takes priority.”

Colts win in stunner; stadium food service company denies media access to witness food safety improvements

Maybe it was the stadium food that somehow lifted the Indianapolis Colts to a stunning come-from-behind 35-34 victory over the New England Patriots in another chapter of the U.S. football rivalry of the decade, Peyton Manning (right) versus Tom Brady (below, left).
After being hammered by local health types, the folks who run the food concessions at Lucas Oil Stadium swooped into town and promised to set things straight. WISH went out to ask some tailgaters to see how confident were about buying food inside the stadium.

Tailgater Glen Vigar reacted to the news,"(It’s) a little scary. I mean it’s a brand new building. I wouldn’t expect it."

Vigar said that he wouldn’t eat the food there anymore.

Centerplate said it planned to have 15 of its own food safety inspectors inside the stadium Sunday to make sure conditions are clean.

24-Hour News 8 had asked to be inside the stadium to see how that was going, but a Centerplate spokesperson denied that request.

Don Schaffner, guest barfblogger: Biking for food security

As I’ve blogged before, I’m interested in the intersection of disparate ideas.

Today’s intersection relates to the good folks at Barf Blog, and the cross-country adventures of a fellow food safety microbiologist.

Many professional food safety scientist readers of this blog may know Dr. Tom Montville. He’s the coauthor of Food Microbiology: An Introduction and co-edited the first two editions of Food Microbiology: Fundamentals and Frontiers.

But the reasons for this post don’t have too much to do with food safety, although they do have a lot to do with food, more specifically food security.  And when I say food security, I don’t mean defending the food supply against bioterrorism, although this is also one of Dr. Montville’s research interests.  No, when I say food security, I mean it in the original sense, "availability of food and one’s access to it".

Tom, you see, has managed to combine two of his passions: food, and riding his bicycle.  He is currently riding his bicycle across the county (west coast to east coast) to raise funds for Elijah’s Promise, which began as a small soup kitchen and has since become a multi-service agency that moves people out of poverty.

And (here’s the intersection) he’s about to pass within 30 miles of Manhattan, Kansas!

I find his efforts very inspiring, and I hope you will too.  Check out his blog to learn more.

Poisoning not Noro?

ESPN reports that The International Tennis Federation is investigating allegations that 13th ranked, US Open quarter finalist Tommy Haas was poisoned before Germany’s Davis Cup match against Russia.

The report says that Haas was forced out of a match with what appeared to be a stomach virus (sounds like noro?) on September 23.  Germany’s opponent Russia went on to win the semifinal series and reach the Davis Cup final.

German teammate Alexander Waske said he was told by a Russian who manages numerous athletes that it was poisoning, not a virus.

Haas was quoted as saying "I was the only one ever to order dessert or a Latte macchiato after dinner. If all this is true, since no one else got sick, that must have been when it happened."