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THE number of people in the Balearics affected by gastroenteritis caused by eating contaminated chicken has now risen to 88, one of whom is still in hospital, the Balearic health authorities confirmed yesterday. On Wednesday, the number of victims had been 61, but by yesterday it had risen to 88, 12 of whom needed hospital treatment, although only one was admitted. The gastroenteritis was caused by precooked chickens of the brand names Pimpollo and Pollo Asado Sada, marketed by the company SADA, based in Lominchar, Toledo. The company has traced the source of the problem to a tube which dispensed the sauce for the chickens. The number of people affected throughout Spain is reported to be more than 1'500, although the Food Safety Agency would only confirm 1'208. One man aged 90 has died. A spokesman for the central health ministry said that the number of new cases is now going down.
The Balearic health authorities repeated their warnings to people who had purchased chickens before their removal from shops was ordered not to consume them, as they may be contaminated. However, the central ministry believes that most of the units have already been withdrawn from sale. The outbreak started on Friday and affects the whole country with the exception of the Canary Islands.
The company produces more than 10'000 units a day and has a nation-wide distribution chain.
The first cases were detected in Valencia, and a national alert was raised. Steps taken were closing down production, blocking all products which had already been distributed and informing the population. Isabel Avila, president of the Spanish Federation of Housewives and Consumers Organisations, said yesterday that “it will be years” before consumers recover confidence in the pre-cooked chicken business. “It was an unfortunate accident, and we know that zero risk does not exist,” she said, calling for tighter controls.
The Sada factory was inspected twice a week.