A shawarma restaurant in Jordan that did not refrigerate its meat despite a 40 degree heatwave has been blamed for an outbreak of food poisoning, which has left a child dead and 826 people hospitalised.
Reports from the Middle Eastern nation say everyone who fell ill, including the five-year-old boy who died, had eaten at the restaurant in the Ein al-Basha neighbourhood, just outside the capital Amman.
Huge numbers of customers were reportedly attracted to the eatery because it was offering half-price shawarma, a popular meal of grilled meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie.
However, despite Jordan experiencing a heatwave with temperatures soaring past 40 degrees, the restaurant owner allegedly did not keep the shawarma meat in the fridge.
An official from Jordan’s health ministry, Adnan Ishaq, told state TV the meat had become infected because it was not chilled and lab tests had revealed bacteria growing in it.
The young boy had been taken to hospital on Monday when the first food poisoning cases were detected, but doctors were unable to save him after he suffered heart failure.
By Wednesday, hundreds of those hospitalised had been released, but four of the victims remained in intensive care and a further 321 were in a stable condition elsewhere in the hospital, the health minister Saad Jaber said.
Mr Jabar said an investigation into the poisoning outbreak was under way and “any offender will be held accountable, regardless of who they are”.