A spokesperson for the South Essex Grocery Security Alliance has confirmed that a ‘Purple Level’ warning is currently in operation for small picnic items – this means that there is a ‘potential possibility’ that pre-packed and convenient food and drink items could be unsafe and pose a risk to the general public at enclosed entertainment events. Although people have been advised to remain ‘vigilant but calm but cautious,’ extra security checks are now in operation for scotch eggs, sausage rolls, sandwiches, Mini Babybel cheeses and flasks of tea.
Kelvin Prophet is Southend Divisional Director for SEGSA, and he spoke to our Chief Reporter this morning. He said: ‘Members of the public may have already noticed enhanced security checks at outdoor events in Southend over the weekend, and although it can be inconvenient to have picnic items confiscated or your entry to an event prohibited, it must be understood that staff are working under incredibly difficult conditions because of the Purple Alert. Just last week, a steak bake was purchased from a local bakery that actually had some meat inside it, and we simply cannot plan ahead for those circumstances.’
Mr Prophet added: ‘When you purchase food and drink items from an on-site catering company, you are paying for the peace of mind that your sausage won’t suddenly combust in front of your very eyes. It is very rare that a sausage or cheeseburger is radicalised when you eat and drink at an organised event. When Costa Coffee started trading at Southend Hospital, they made everyone realise just how dangerous the 30p coffee made by the WRVS really was.’
We asked if members of the public would be better off making their own sandwiches from scratch before heading to outdoor concerns in the borough. He said: ‘Unfortunately, any homemade sandwiches will be subject to the same security measures. Although the bread is usually safe, we receive more than 100 intelligence memos every week about militant cottage cheese and imports of suspect mayonnaise.’