The Food Standards Agency is investigating salmonella in watermelon claims following the death of one person and thirty other reported cases of food poisoning in the UK relating to pre-packed ready-to-eat watermelon slices.
Cases of similar illness have also been reported in Germany and the Republic of Ireland, and officials at the Health Protection Agency are treating the outbreak of salmonella poisoning with particular caution – issuing advice to wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
The origin of the salmonella contaminated watermelons is not yet firmly established, but they are believed to come from a food preparation unit in Brazil; where the watermelons may have been washed in unclean water or cut with a contaminated knife. Of the thirty people known to have developed the “Salmonella Newton” strain of salmonella, fifteen have confirmed that they had eaten watermelon within the preceding week.
The salmonella in watermelon claims victims in similar ways to other strains of food poisoning, with victims suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pains which last from four to seven days. Some people will need a course of antibiotics to prevent complications such as septicaemia and infection, and people recognising the early symptoms of food poisoning are advised to seek medical attention immediately.
Subject to the medical prognosis, it will be possible for salmonella in watermelon claims for compensation to be made against the retail outlets responsible for selling the contaminated watermelons. This is most likely to be snack kiosks or small shops with self-service fridges rather than the larger grocery stores, although some cafes and restaurants may also be liable if they have served the contaminated watermelons on their premises.
In order to assist with determining liability and the preparation of injury compensation claims, those suffering from salmonella in watermelon food poisoning are advised to speak with a lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.