Food poisoning, fatalities & fines. The outcome of poor food hygiene standards.

Published: 7 Mar 2017

Since the introduction of the sentencing guidelines, the impact of food safety prosecutions is really and truly being felt across the industry. In the last year there has been numerous reported cases of confirmed food poisoning and even deaths due to consumption of foods containing nuts. The latest reported case involves a 71-year-old woman losing her life after consuming an incorrectly-prepared pub lunch.

Truro Crown Court heard how Christine Morgan became violently ill and died the next day after ordering a "pensioner's lunch" containing roast lamb at the Clock and Key pub, Cornwall, on 11 August 2015.

The investigation by Cornwall Council found that poor food safety standards in the kitchen resulted in food poisoning which ultimately cost Mrs Morgan her life. It was noted that lamb had been cooked four days before serving, exceeding the two days recommended. Kitchen management also failed to ensure the meat was fully cooled before refrigerating it. There was no evidence of core cooking temperatures being recorded, or of core temperatures records during preparation. The food was also reheated in a microwave by a member of staff that had not completed the required minimum food hygiene training.

Tests on the lamb by Public Health England found the same bacteria which was also in Mrs Morgan's stool sample.

The pub owners, Lake Inns and Leisure Limited, pleaded guilty to two counts of serving unfit food and were fined £20,000. The judge also ordered the company to pay costs of more than £23,000. Diane Burrow, 56, who managed the kitchen at the pub and was fined £750.

It has been reported that the family of Mrs Morgan will now be taking civil action against the owners of the company.

Recent cases involving insanitary hygiene practises have also been widely reported. The owners of The Grape Inn, Teeside were ordered to pay £30,890 after EHO’S found rat droppings in storage areas, poor hygiene disciplines and expired food, both the owner and the chef appeared to have poor food safety knowledge.

The chef at Yeahya Flavour of Asia in the Nine Elms pub, Swindon pleaded guilty to 10 allegations of breaching food and hygiene regulations and appeared to hold no regard for food safety laws. The discovery of brown fingerprints on a bottle led to EHO’s discovering that the Chef had been using just water and his bare hands to clean his bottom after defecating, before preparing food.

Hopefully the above examples are more extreme than most, however, cases such as these continue to occur at a time when it is more important than ever to ensure good food hygiene levels and understanding. To ensure that your organisation does not face prosecution, ensure that you maintain high standards and good levels of staff training. If you need advice, help, training or just clarification please feel free to contact us.

Here are some tips on how CSC can help protect you and your customers:

  • We develop comprehensive food safety management systems with our clients, ensuring that all legislative requirements are met.
  • Compiling company policies which covers personal hygiene, food handler’s declarations and return to work protocols following illness.
  • Our consultative approach enables effective 'on the job' training with members of the kitchen where ownership of internal due diligence systems is made a priority.
  • We pride ourselves on providing superior third party food hygiene audits and devising achievable action plans for our client base to ensure that legal compliance is met.
  • Bespoke support is also provided for alleged food poisoning investigations and improvements which need to be made following visits from local authority.
  • At CSC, our highly experienced food safety team carry out bespoke food safety training sessions with management and kitchen staff covering all legal requirements from HACCP to adopting a managed approach to pest control.
  • We provide Level 2, 3 and 4 food safety courses via a mixture of on and offline courses.