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Deaths could be linked to salmonella in SFC chicken’s boneless buckets

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THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY has issued an urgent warning about a chicken product sold in food stores across Wales.

The agency has recalled three chicken products for possible salmonella contamination.

The products affected are SFC chicken’s boneless bucket and poppets and Vestey Food’s Chick Inn jumbo chicken nuggets

Five people are suspected to have died and hundreds more, including children, became seriously ill after eating contaminated chicken imported from Poland.

The processed chicken products are typically bought by parents as a cheap and easy meal for children. Some 44 per cent of victims were aged 16 or under.

The meat was turned into cheap frozen nuggets and breaded chicken products sold by major supermarkets across the UK over the past year.

Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have been selling the products for months while the Vestey nuggets have been sold through hundreds of Heron Foods stores, B&M, and B&M Express.

Some 480 people are known to have fallen ill with salmonella poisoning with more than one in three becoming so sick they needed hospital treatment.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning over the consumption of two SFC chicken products – which use packaging that mimics KFC – Take Home Boneless Bucket and Chicken Poppets.

There also been a recall of Chick Inn 32 Jumbo Chicken Nuggets, made by Vestey Foods.

Head of the Gastrointestinal Pathogens of the National Infection Service, Saheer Gharbia, said: “Salmonella generally causes a mild illness, although vulnerable groups like children under five years, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness and may require hospitalisation.

“Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever. Anyone who is concerned about symptoms should contact their GP or out of hours service in the first instance.”

Chief operating officer of the Food Standards Agency, Colin Sullivan, said: “Our advice is to always take care when storing, handling and cooking these types of frozen breaded chicken products to help reduce the risk of food poisoning to you and your family.

“You should always check the cooking instructions on food packaging, as different brands of the same product might have different instructions. Cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.”

SFC, which is based in Merseyside, apologised and said it would like to “assure customers of our continuing commitment to the highest standard of quality and safety”

Public health watchdogs say the salmonella infection has been recorded as a contributory cause of death in at least one case.

A further four deaths have been linked to the outbreaks, although it is not clear whether salmonella infection was a factor for those.

Vestey, which is based in Croydon, confirmed salmonella had been found in the Chick Inn nuggets product.

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Calls for collaboration in effort to stop future Towy floods

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CARMARTHEN WESTE and South Pembrokeshire Senedd Candidate Cllr Samuel Kurtz has called for collaboration to address the continued flooding in Carmarthen. 

The Towy River has breached its banks a number of times in quick succession, causing misery for a number of businesses and residents. 
Senedd candidate Cllr Samuel Kurtz has written to the Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister urging for a collaborative approach to deliver an action plan that will help protect against flooding.

Commenting, Sam Kurtz said: “The distressing scenes of the flooding of the Towy have become all too regular, causing anguish and pain for those affected. 

“I’ve called upon the Rural Affairs Minister to ensure that there is an agreed action plan, which is financed, to introduce proper mitigating features and flood defences. 

“This can only be achieved with everyone working together to an agreed end solution, from business owners and Carmarthenshire County Council to Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government. I’m willing to work with all to help bring an end to these floods.”

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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