A woman has died and 30 people were left unwell in a suspected case of food poisoning after eating a Christmas Day dinner at a pub in Essex.
The woman, thought to be in her 40s, is believed to have eaten the £39.95 four-course festive lunch at the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, according to the Daily Mail.
She became ill soon after returning home, and was taken to hospital, where she died two days later on the 27 December.
A joint investigation has been launched by the HPA and Havering Council's environmental health team to establish any links between the food poisoning outbreak and food eaten at the Railway Hotel.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said about 30 other diners at the venue had reported symptoms of food poisoning after their Christmas lunch, and laboratory tests confirmed the presence of Clostridium perfringens - the third most common bacterial cause of food poisoning, linked with red meat and poultry - in samples submitted by them all, including the woman that died.
An HPA spokeswoman told the Daily Telegraph: "We have been notified of an outbreak of food poisoning associated with an establishment in Havering. One person has sadly died after being admitted to hospital.
"Approximately 30 people in total have reported symptoms of gastro-intestinal illness after eating at the venue on 25 December 2012.
"Laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of Clostridium perfringens bacteria in a number of samples submitted by those experiencing symptoms, including the patient who died."
But a hotel spokesman has said it's wrong to speculate about the cause of the illnesses until after the investigation.
A spokesman for Ember Inns, which runs the Railway Hotel in Hornchurch, said: "We would like to reassure our guests that we prepare our food to the highest hygiene standards.
"Our kitchens are monitored regularly through internal checks and independent external audits. In fact the pub holds a five-star hygiene rating under the Food Standards Association (FSA) National Rating Scheme, the highest rating that can be awarded by the FSA.
"Until the investigation is complete it would be wrong to speculate as to the cause of the symptoms experienced by the guests who visited us."
Dr Deborah Turbitt, director of the HPA's local health protection unit, said: "Our thoughts are with the family at this sad time.
"We have been working with Environmental Health Officers at Havering Council to identify the cause of illness and any links to food eaten at the venue.
"The venue has been cooperating fully with our investigations. Indications suggest that this outbreak is an isolated event."
She added: "The illness generally lasts no more than a few days although vulnerable groups such as very young children, elderly people, and those with underlying health problems can be more seriously affected.
"It is rare for a person to die as a direct result of food poisoning."
A spokesperson for the Railway Hotel said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family at this difficult time. The Local Authority is currently investigating an alleged food poisoning outbreak at the Railway. We are fully co-operating with the Environmental Health and Health Protection Agency teams while they conduct this investigation; however until the investigation is complete we can't speculate about a possible cause or source."
Read more at the Daily Telegraph
UK wedding venue fined £25,000 after half reception guests get food poisoning
Raymond Blanc restaurant banned from serving liver that poisoned diners