Woman dies after 'toxic' Christmas meal

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Two elderly residents of the care home are still being treated in hospital. Photo: Dagny Mol/Flickr
16:08 CET+01:00
An elderly woman in the northern Italian town of Tortona has died and 51 other people have suffered from food poisoning after eating a Christmas meal.

Police have launched an investigation following the death of an elderly resident at the Leadro Lisini nursing home - in Tortona in the northern Italian region of Piedmont - from food poisoning on Christmas Day.

A total of 51 residents at the nursing home suffered stomach pains, nausea and dizziness after eating their festive meal.

The woman who died, who was aged 80, had been rushed to Accident and Emergency along with several others when she became unwell. Two elderly residents of the care home are still being treated in hospital.

“Our mother started feeling ill on Christmas evening - and when we brought her to the emergency room, we discovered other inpatients from Lisino who had also felt unwell after lunch,” the woman’s children told ANSA news agency.

Although nursing home staff insist that the dead woman was already suffering from a serious illness at the time, her children have decided to press charges in order to find out the exact cause of death.The public prosecutor’s office in Alessandria has now opened an investigation.

Prosecutor Francesca Rombolà has ordered an autopsy. Meanwhile, police from the NAS, the Italian police department responsible for the control of food, drinks and medicine - along with specialists from the ASL, the local health authority - have carried out a series of internal checks on the care home.

The prosecution is not ruling out homicide at this stage of the investigation, but the nursing home management believe that the food may have been contaminated accidentally.

“It could be caused by an accidental external contamination, perhaps a virus,” a spokesman for the nursing home told ANSA. 

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The prosecutors’ office refused to be drawn. “We are waiting for the result of the inspection, before reaching any hasty conclusions,” said a spokesman. 

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