Dad Fell Ill After Contaminated Eating Horse Meat- The Sun Newspaper- Exclusive News Story- ***February 2013***

Father Robert Powell contacted us being told he had contracted 'horse bacteria' after eating lots of ready meals.

We sold the story as an exclusive to The Sun at the height of the horse meat scandal.

Mr Powell was paid a large fee for his story which can be read below.

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A DAD last night told how he was struck down by a crippling horse bug after eating dodgy Findus beef lasagnes.

Robert Powell, 40, feared he would die during 11 agonising days in hospital after scoffing dozens of the meals some of which were 100 per cent horse meat.

He was stunned when doctors found an infection in his liver and spine usually caught from horses which he had no contact with.

Last night medics confirmed his fear that it could have come from eating the tainted beef. Robert said: "Doctors asked whether I'd had any interaction with horses and I said no. I couldn't figure out how I caught the infection.

"Then the horse meat scandal broke and I put two and two together.

"It appears too much of a coincidence. It seems I was eating this beef when it may have been contaminated.The father of two also told of his agony as crippling stomach spasms saw him rushed to hospital, where medics diagnosed horse bug streptococcus equinus. Robert, of Pontypool, South Wales, said: "I was in so much pain I thought I was going to die. It was terrible.

"I had a fever too, which was part of the reason I was spasming.

"The bacteria had found a weak point in my body, which must have been my back, and it caused mayhem.

"My torso went into spasm. The pain was unbelievable. The infection began attacking my liver as well." The ex-Tesco worker and Army signaller began eating Findus grub at least once a week following a foot operation in September.

Robert who also has severe arthritis said: "My wife works and I find it difficult to do things for myself, so to have meals that you can just throw in the oven was easier for me."

Findus beef lasagne
Withdrawn ... dodgy Findus grub

But last December excruciating cramps left him doubled up in pain. Wife Zoe, 35, called 999 and paramedics gave him morphine before rushing him to hospital.

After a battery of scans, x-rays and blood tests, doctors found the horse infection around his spinal cord and liver.

Robert insisted he could not have caught it from an animal, saying: "I haven't been in contact with horses since riding one at 16."

There were just ten human streptococcus equinus cases in England last year.

Dr Neil Carbarns, an expert at the Cardiff hospital where Robert was treated, said it was usually passed to people from someone in contact with horses. But he said the meals could have been the source and added: "It's possible this spread to Mr Powell if the meat was not cooked properly."

However, Professor Mark Bowen, of the British Equine Veterinary Association, said: "This is an incredibly rare case. The chances of contracting it from eating meat are slim."

Findus withdrew the lasagnes this month after tests showed the shocking horse contamination.

A spokesman for Findus said: "All Findus products undergo a range of tests by the manufacturer to ensure that they are safe for customers including microbial tests.

"In addition to this, Findus does not send out our ready meals until they have passed our own tests.

"All ready meals are cooked to a safe temperature during manufacture, frozen and then cooked by the customer, this would ensure food safety."

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