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Festival under scrutiny over dodgy food

Date

Hamish Boland-Rudder

Canberra's Multicultural Festivals will be the focus of extra scrutiny from health officers this year after a food poisoning outbreak at last year's event.

Organisers of the Multicultural Festival have added 100 stalls and an extra stage to the 2013 line-up, and, with the return of the Fringe festival, expanded as far as Allara Street as the event gears up for an expected 250,000 people over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Following the hospitalisation of five people due to food poisoning linked to the 2012 festival, ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly said extra precautions were being taken to ensure patrons could enjoy the vast array of food on offer with confidence.

"We certainly have always been very closely engaged with the festival organisers," Dr Kelly said.

"[Last year] we had a salmonella outbreak which was linked with the Multicultural Festival - it was one of several that was happening around town at the time.

"On the basis of that, we've really ramped up our work for this year."

Dr Kelly said information sessions for food stall holders, which detailed safe food handling practices, had been made compulsory for the first time this year, and the consequences of any infringements - including confiscation of food and shut down notices - had been made clear.

In addition, health officers would attend every day of the event in 2013.

"We're planning on having more inspectors on the ground for more days and longer hours during those days for the time of the festival," Dr Kelly said.

"People should feel very confident that the food they get from the Multicultural Festival this year should be there to be enjoyed and safe."

The National Multicultural Festival begins on Friday evening and runs until Sunday afternoon.

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