Food poisoning suspected amid sickness reports after Royal College of Art event

Anyone feeling unwell is urged to wash their hands thoroughly (Andrew Parsons/PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

More than 200 people have reported falling ill with suspected food poisoning after a graduation ceremony at the Royal College of Art.

Public Health England (PHE) said on Wednesday it is investigating the causes of the stomach sickness after the event at the prestigious London university.

Musician Peter Gabriel received an honorary degree at the Royal Albert Hall ceremony attended by hundreds of students and their families on Friday and many went to a buffet at the university afterwards.

RCA chief operating officer Richard Benson said: “We have received reports from approximately 200 students, guests and staff who suffered gastrointestinal illness over the weekend following the college buffet reception on Friday.

“This was clearly very unfortunate, and for some of the students and their families was a really unpleasant end to what should have been a day of celebration at the end of the academic year.”

In an email to students, he added “the symptoms appear consistent with food poisoning”.

Advice for those feeling unwell

Source: Public Health England

  • Isolate yourself as far as possible

  • Wash your hands when handling food or using the toilet

  • Drink plenty of fluids if suffering with diarrhoea or vomiting

Canteens at its campuses in Kensington, White City and Battersea have been closed as a precaution, he added.

PHE said it is investigating the cause of the outbreak.

Dr Deborah Turbitt, deputy director of PHE London, said: “PHE is looking into this case as a matter of urgency.

“People feeling unwell should  isolate themselves as far as possible, and wash their hands when handling food or using the toilet in order to prevent the spread of infection.

“Those with diarrhoea or vomiting should take care to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.”