Scare over poi­son sand­wiches

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Clare Mul­grew

A FOOD poi­son­ing alert was is­sued over thou­sands of sand­wiches made in Ash­ford for sale in schools, hos­pi­tals and busi­nesses through­out the South of Eng­land.

An Ash­ford food fac­tory is at the cen­tre of a lis­te­ria scare af­fect­ing the South of Eng­land

A FOOD poi­son­ing alert was is­sued over thou­sands of sand­wiches made in Ash­ford for sale in schools, hos­pi­tals and busi­nesses through­out the South of Eng­land.

The Food Stan­dards Agency (FSA) raised the alarm on Satur­day af­ter traces of lis­te­ria were found dur­ing rou­tine checks at the An­chor Cater­ing plant based at the Wot­ton Trad­ing Es­tate, Wot­ton Road, Kingsnorth.

Vul­ner­a­ble groups, par­tic­u­larly preg­nant women, are be­ing urged to look out for symp­toms which can take up to 90 days to ap­pear.

As many as 220,000 ready­made sand­wiches with sell-by dates from Fe­bru­ary 21 and March 14 are sus­pected.

Of­fi­cers from Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil dis­cov­ered the dan­gers af­ter tests on a sand­wich at an Ash­ford busi­ness.

Raised lev­els of lis­te­ria were found and traced back to An­chor Cater­ing, which sells sand­wiches un­der the An­chor Econ­omy, An­chor Gourmet and Pomegranate la­bels.

Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions were car­ried out and the Health Pro­tec­tion Agency (HPA) was alerted on March 12.

“On the same day the fac­tory was vis­ited, pro­duc­tion halted and a prod­uct re­call in­sti­gated,” said ABC en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer, Sheila Dav­i­son.

“Pro­ce­dures in place for deal- ing with such an oc­cur­rence were fol­lowed ef­fi­ciently by the agen­cies in­volved to re­move po­ten­tially con­tam­i­nated sand­wiches from the food chain en­sur­ing any risk was kept to a min­i­mum.”

Ash­ford Cricket Club, Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel, Im­pe­rial Col­lege, South Kent Col­lege and Kent County Coun­cil are all at risk.

At­trac­tions such as Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral and Leeds Cas­tle may be af­fected, as well as Lon­don hos­pi­tals in­clud­ing Great Or­mond Street.

Dr Gra­ham Bick­ler, South East re­gional di­rec­tor of the HPA, said: “We are not aware of any in­fec­tion but want peo­ple in those vul­ner­a­ble groups to be aware that if they have eaten sand­wiches from this com­pany dur­ing the pe­riod in ques­tion and be­come ill within two to three months they must seek med­i­cal ad­vice.”

Food Stan­dards Agency chief sci­en­tist Dr Andrew Wadge said large num­bers of sand­wiches may have been con­sumed be­fore the prob­lem was de­tected.

Pic­ture Dave Downey

An­chor Cater­ing in Ash­ford

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