Food Poisoning Outbreak at Download Festival Affects Up to 500, Prompts Investigation

Two of the Leicestershire rock fest's food stalls were shut down this weekend

Photo: Download Festival

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 20, 2024

As we get older and tunnel into deeper layers of climate change's fiery wrath, music festivals can feel harder and harder to survive, let alone fully enjoy. If you'd like some nightmare fuel beyond that time you forgot to wear sunscreen and wore a top with cutouts, it does, in fact, get worse: as the BBC reports, two food stalls had to be shut down by Live Nation at last weekend's Download Festival in Leicestershire, UK, following numerous reports of fans getting sick.

The aptly-titled Food Poisoning News is speculating that, according to reports from the Download medical tent, as many as 500 of the tens of thousands of people who attended the music festival between last Wednesday (June 12) and Sunday (June 16) were affected by the outbreak, with symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever and general malaise. 

Those close to the matter even went so far as to describe it as a "real food poisoning epidemic," and some festivalgoers apparently had to resort to using buckets as makeshift toilets amid their gastrointestinal distress. (It should be noted that Download is a camping festival, which just makes this all the worse.)

Travelling from Norfolk, Will Ellis and his partner had "pre-planned" one of the food stalls they were eager to visit after enjoying it last year. Ellis apparently woke up the next morning with "the most painful stomach ache," he and his partner both suffering diarrhea — which "ruined" almost an entire day of the festival. 

Devon resident Megan Souster, a first-time Download attendee, said that she had "never been so ill in my life," when she started to feel sick on Saturday night and proceeded to spend all of Sunday under her partner's care, too unwell to even make it to a medical tent. Souster said it took her four days to recover and she still wasn't feeling like herself when she spoke to BBC.

Sean Smith, frontman of Wales metal band Raiders, took to Twitter on Monday (June 17) to let fans know that he had food poisoning and had been "sick all night," adding that he had to go to the hospital to be put on an IV.

North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) said that, when the pattern of fans falling ill became apparent, Live Nation launched an investigation that resulted in two of the vendors being forced to cease their operations at the festival after they "failed to meet the standards of Environmental Health and the local authority." The promoter called customer well-being its "primary concern," assuring that all vendors had been subject to inspection before and during the event.

"We are aware of reports of people feeling unwell and will continue to investigate," NWLDC's head of community services, Paul Sanders, told BBC. "Anyone continuing to feel unwell following the Download Festival should contact their GP in the first instance."

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