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Tests clear kitchen over Tottenham illness

Tests have cleared a hotel kitchen of food poisoning after a group of Tottenham players were taken ill, it was announced on Tuesday.

Samples taken from the kitchen were found to be 'completely negative', the Health Protection Agency said in a statement.

An investigation instead found the most likely cause of the players' illness was a virus.

Ten Spurs players were struck down by what was then thought to be food poisoning on the morning of their final game of the Barclays Premiership season against West Ham at Upton Park.

They had been eating lasagne at the Marriott Hotel in Canary Wharf, east London.

Tottenham lost the game 2-1, wrecking their ambition to qualify for the Champions League as north London rivals Arsenal leapfrogged them into fourth place.

They had asked the Premier League to delay the start of the game and players were struggling to shake off the effects of illness but the club opted to go ahead, fearing sanctions would be imposed on them if they pulled out.

The league turned down a later request for the match to be replayed.

Meanwhile, the Health Protection Agency and Tower Hamlets Environmental Health launched an investigation at the Marriott.

In a statement today, they said: 'The available food taken from the hotel kitchen linked to that eaten by the group has been tested and found to be completely negative.

'Further samples taken from the hotel's waste bins identified a range of bacteria as would be expected from waste bins.

'However these samples have not identified organisms which would have been responsible for this outbreak.

'Investigations of the hotel's food preparation, storage, and cooking are entirely satisfactory.

'The only positive finding from the investigation has been a positive sample from one of the persons affected which showed Norovirus, a form of viral gastroenteritis.'

Colin Perrins, head of Tower Hamlets Trading Standards and Environmental Health, said: 'A thorough investigation into this incident was carried out by the Health Protection Agency in close partnership with the borough's Environmental Health Officers.

'None of the results or findings indicated that food poisoning was the cause. The likely cause of illness suffered by the Tottenham Hotspur FC staff and players was from a viral source.'

Dr Alex Mellanby, consultant in communicable disease control at the North East and Central London Health Protection Unit, added: 'The only positive finding in this investigation so far identifies Norovirus as the cause of the outbreak. We do not believe that this outbreak was caused by food poisoning from the hotel.'

In a statement, the hotel said: 'The management of the London Marriott Hotel at West India Quay is very pleased that the hotel has been fully cleared from allegations of food poisoning.'