HEALTH officials in Boston have issued warnings about re- heating gravy following the death of a woman.
The woman in her 40s died after contracting food poisoning after eating Christmas dinner at a hotel in Essex. Thirty others were also ill.
But households could be harbouring a brown killer in a jug, local authorities have warned as in some circumstances two-day-old gravy can lead to fatal food poisoning. And that can include gravy made from granules as well as "proper" gravy.
Boston Borough Council's principal environmental health officer Trevor Darnes said: "Samples taken from those that ate at the hotel revealed they had suffered Clostridium Perfringens food poisoning.
"This is the third most common type of food poisoning and foods usually implicated include stews, casseroles, gravy and sauces that have been pre-cooked then not cooled quickly or kept at room temperature before being warmed up again for service.
"This bacterium produces something called a spore which enables it to survive high cooking temperatures. The spores do not make people ill, however, if the food is left in a warm kitchen for a long time the spores will turn into bacteria and start to multiply very quickly.
"High numbers of bacteria may cause headache, fever, stomach pains and diarrhoea. Whilst this outbreak occurred in a commercial premise it can happen in a domestic environment. People shouldn't panic though as Clostridium Perfringens food poisoning can be prevented by ensuring that cooked foods that are not being served straight away are cooled as soon as possible and then kept in the fridge prior to thorough re-heating. Cooling large quantities of food quickly can be achieved by portioning into smaller containers, allowing the initial heat to be removed and then placing in the fridge."
It is estimated that around one million people suffer food poisoning each year in England and Wales and around 500 people die from eating contaminated food.
Tops tips for preventing food poisoning
Always wash hands thoroughly before handling food, especially ready-to-eat foods.
Keep raw foods such as meat and vegetables separate from ready-to-eat foods.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect work surfaces, equipment and utensils.
Put a thermometer in the fridge and check the temperature is at or below 80C.
Never use food past the use by date.
Check food is piping hot all the way through prior to serving.
Cooked food which is not consumed straight away should be cooled quickly.