Jordan bans chicken shawarma after hundreds poisoned

204 people hospitalized because of Salmonella said to have originated from a Palestinian refugee camp.

Shawarma 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shawarma 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jordanian health authorities have banned the serving of chicken shawarma sandwiches in the kingdom's restaurants, after hundreds got Salmonella poisoning, the acting health minister said Monday. Mohammed al-Thneibat said that 204 people had to be hospitalized for a few hours since Saturday, because they ate sandwiches with undercooked chicken infested by the Salmonella bacteria. Al-Thneibat said the ban also included sale of homemade mayonnaise. It was unclear how long the ban would be in place. The Salmonella is said to have originated from a restaurant in the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, 27 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of the Jordanian capital Amman. The restaurant sold some 600 meals of undercooked chicken meat, causing food poisoning among a third of the consumers. Salmonella poisoning is a bacterial disease involving diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pains up to three days following the infection. The bacteria is destroyed if chicken and eggs are cooked properly. Mayonnaise made of raw eggs is particularly dangerous. The illness usually lasts up to a week and most people recover without treatment. In some cases with severe symptoms, the patient needs to be hospitalized. Al-Thneibat told reporters that 600 restaurants all over the kingdom were included in the ban, as a precaution. The owner of the Palestinian restaurant and its staff were arrested. If convicted, the owner faces up to three years in jail and a fine. In addition, authorities also closed the Baqaa restaurant. Last month, a waterborne parasite causing diarrhea and high fever affected some 700 villagers in Mansheyet Bani Hassanty, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Amman. The outbreak was likely caused by a water pipe that became contaminated with animal dung.