Health officials are investigating an outbreak of salmonella following a party for pensioners at Gatwick organised by BAA.

A total of 20 former airport workers were found to be suffering from food poisoning and a further 24 said they had suffered stomach problems after the party on February 2.

Three people needed hospital treatment and one person is still in hospital. The annual party was held at the BAA sports and social

club at The Beehive, which is due to be demolished in a month.

The food, which included chicken and ham, was cooked by a private caterer. A spokeswoman for Crawley Borough Council confirmed the salmonella outbreak and said it was being investigated by environmental health officials.

She said: "We sent out questionnaires to the 70 people who attended the party and 44 said they had been affected to varying degrees."

A BAA spokeswoman said as a precaution they had closed down the kitchen concerned.

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