For­mer pub owner fined after 186 din­ers fell ill

Bristol Post - - NEWS - Heather PICKSTOCK [email protected]­

ABUSINESSMAN has been fined £14,000 after scores of din­ers fell ill after eat­ing at his pub on Mother’s Day.

Nearly 400 peo­ple en­joyed a meal at The Old Farm­house in Nailsea on March 11 last year but 186 fell ill with food poi­son­ing after their visit.

The vic­tims, who had eaten over four sit­tings, were aged from ba­bies to din­ers in their 80s and had re­ported be­com­ing un­well with symp­toms of di­a­hor­rea, stom­ach cramps and sick­ness.

After be­ing alerted to the out­break, North Som­er­set Coun­cil en­vi­ron­men­tal health depart­ment launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, trac­ing the 398 peo­ple who had eaten at The Old Farm­house that day.

Pub­lic Health Eng­land (PHE) was also in­formed.

Dur­ing their visit, en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cers took sam­ples of lamb, beef, gravy and from some of the equip­ment used from the pub.

Of­fi­cers re­turned to the pub the next day where they met Eric Mont­gomery, the sole di­rec­tor of the com­pany M and M Hospi­tal­ity which ran The Old Farm­house at the time.

Mr Mont­gomery is no longer in­volved with The Old Farm­house. He left the busi­ness in Au­gust last year and it is now un­der new man- age­ment. The pub now has a five star food hy­giene rat­ing.

After the in­spec­tion the pub was closed for a deep clean amid ini­tial fears that a vi­ral out­break of the sick­ness and di­ar­rhoea bug norovirus had caused peo­ple to be­come ill.

The court heard that tests on the sam­ples taken from the pub showed that both the beef and lamb con­tained the bac­te­ria clostrid­ium per­frin­gens.

The bac­te­ria – which nor­mally live in the hu­man and an­i­mal in­tes­tine and in the en­vi­ron­ment – causes a toxin in the body which causes peo­ple to be­come ill.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed that the meat served in the carvery had been cooked at a low tem­per­a­ture overnight the pre­vi­ous night, with it be­ing then kept warm un­til re­quired for the carvery.

The court heard that al­though the bac­te­ria had been found in the lamb and beef there was ‘strong ev­i­dence’ that other food items had been con­tam­i­nated.

To kill the bac­te­ria in the meat, it needs to be cooked at a higher tem­per­a­ture, which the court heard did not hap­pen.

For­tu­nately all those who fell ill at The Old Farm­house did not have any long last­ing ef­fects and re­cov­ered within a few days.

En­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cers also found dur­ing their visit that doc­u­men­ta­tion re­gard­ing food safety at the pub was not up to date.

Prose­cut­ing for North Som­er­set Coun­cil Emma An­der­son said: “These food safety pro­ce­dures are es­sen­tial in en­sur­ing out­breaks like this do not oc­cur.

“The of­fender fell far short of the ap­pro­pri­ate stan­dards al­low­ing breaches of food safety to ex­ist.”

Mr Mont­gomery ad­mit­ted charges of plac­ing un­safe food on the mar­ket and fail­ing to en­sure rel­e­vant food safety doc­u­ments were up to date when he ap­peared be­fore mag­is­trates.

The court heard how Mr Mont­gomery, who has been in the ca­ter­ing busi­ness for 30 years hav­ing served as a caterer for the Royal Marines, has two other pubs, both of which have a five star food hy­giene rat­ing.

De­fend­ing Mr Mont­gomery Stu­art Matthews said: “This is a man of im­pec­ca­ble char­ac­ter who has been in the busi­ness for 30 years.

“He is deeply upset that any­one has been caused harm on his watch.”

The court heard that Mr Mont­gomery had been away from the busi­ness since 2015, re­turn­ing in mid 2017 to re­solve is­sues which had arisen.

He bought his co-di­rec­tor out of the busi­ness con­tin­u­ing to run it alone. The court heard how the pub had also had is­sues with staff leav­ing.

Mr Matthews added: “Mr Mont­gomery wants to make it clear that this was an iso­lated in­ci­dent for him with hor­ri­ble con­se­quences.

“Ev­ery­thing points to him tak­ing his eye off the ball which led to what hap­pened on Mother’s Day.

“This was an iso­lated in­ci­dent and is not go­ing to hap­pen again.”

Din­ers who be­came ill were of­fered full re­funds.

A staff men­tor­ing pro­gramme was set up and food safety pro­ce­dures re­viewed.

In a let­ter to the court Mr Mont­gomery said: “I am truly sorry for the harm caused to our pa­trons.”

Mr Mont­gomery was fined £4,000 for fail­ing to en­sure the rel­e­vant food safety doc­u­men­ta­tion was in place.

He was fined a fur­ther £10,000 for plac­ing un­safe food on the mar­ket.

He was also or­dered to pay the £4,765 costs of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a £170 vic­tim sur­charge.

❝ A man of im­pec­ca­ble char­ac­ter who has been in the busi­ness for 30 years

Stu­art Matthews

The Old Farm­house in Nailsea where scores of din­ers fell ill after eat­ing on Mother’s Day last year

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