Poison: Any substance that can cause severe organ damage or death if ingested, breathed in, injected into the body or absorbed through the skin. Many substances that normally cause no problems, including water and most vitamins, can be poisonous if taken in excessive quantity. Poison treatment depends on the ‘substance.
In 2010 it was reported in the media that a number of police officers that had eaten contaminated chicken and tuna sandwiches ordered from a café in Birmingham, England became very ill with food poisoning. There was a criminal investigation immediately though the poisoning is described as being “inadvertent”.
Some officers end up in hospital though “none was admitted overnight” according to the Express newspaper. The police were described as “mentally scarred and even feared they would die” through this incident which was judged to have been “avoidable”. Fortunately, no-one does die, HOWEVER the pensioner who made the sandwiches which the police ate, faced 4 charges of breaching food hygiene regulations and received a 4 month suspended sentence, a fine (which she could not pay) so instead was electronically tagged with an overnight curfew. The woman was also ordered to pay costs. The point being, this incident was taken seriously, was investigated by the police and there were consequences for the woman’s actions! (See following link)
Police were ‘poisoned’ by food from filthy café (Express, Dec 8th 2010)
“A CAFE owner inadvertently poisoned 47 police”
In an incident years earlier, around 4,500 UK haemophiliacs were given contaminated blood in the 1970s and 80s in the form of factor concentrates made from pooled plasma to treat a condition where their blood does not clot properly. This so called “miracle” treatment allegedly violated all kinds of safety rules, breached by both governments and pharmaceutical companies. The blood of haemophiliacs became poisoned with HIV and hepatitis viruses plus they were later exposed to new variant CJD.
Over 3,000 haemophiliacs died in the most horrific way, the rest survive but remain extremely traumatized and in very poor health which affects them not only for a few days but for the rest of their lives and has a long-term impact on their families also. HOWEVER with this incident, unlike the later police poisoning case, despite haemophiliacs and their families going to the police to report an alleged crime, there are no proper criminal investigations, no prosecutions of any kind and not even suspended sentences!
The UK Contaminated Blood scandal was initially seen as an “inadvertent” infection by government HOWEVER Health Minister, Anne Milton, later removed this word admitting it was incorrect and agreed it could no longer be used. In fact, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt had to apologize to the widow of a haemophiliac for using the word in a letter to her written on this tragedy.
The question is….Did the first incident only get investigated because it affected the police? Don’t the lives of disabled persons matter? The complacency over what happened to the haemophilia community is deeply disturbing. How can two cases be treated so differently? It smacks of gross double standards and a complete lack of accountability regarding the devastation inflicted upon a vulnerable population through a case of mass poisoning which affected a large percentage of a distinct and now severely depleted patient group. Ironically this could have been largely prevented had the plasma companies and governments here and abroad adhered to strict safety measures regarding the collection of blood and held off introducing factor concentrates onto the market until a way could be found to virally inactivate hepatitis!
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She was a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.