The British pub scene was shocked this month when a yearlong investigation carried out by Havering Council ruled that an unsafe Christmas dinner had caused the death of one woman and the illness of over 30 punters. The tragedy occurred at Essex’s The Railway Hotel and resulted in the death of Della Callagher, a 46 year old mother of one.
Councillor Osman Dervish of the Havering Council said, “This is the right result for all of those involved. This was clearly a very serious food poisoning incident which tragically resulted in the death of one of the diners.”
Havering Council conducted a full investigation into the incident and eventually came to the conclusion that the death and multiple illnesses were directly caused by turkey which was undercooked or not properly reheated. The ruling took place at the Snaresbrook Crown Court where it took a jury 15 hours to rule that the establishment had failed to comply with regulatory food preparation and service requirements.
“We have put a lot of time into investigating this offence, which has shown that the company did not do everything they could to prevent this outbreak from happening,” adds Dervish.
The Railway Hotel is owned by Mitchells & Butlers, a leading company which owns over 1700 pubs and restaurants across the nation. While the group has admitted to serving up unsafe food it did argue that it has taken all the necessary precautions to prevent food poisoning incidents. While Mitchells & Butlers has taken much of the blame there have also been repercussions for former head chef Mehmet Kaya and former manager Ann-Marie McSweeney. Their verdicts are yet to be decided however large fines are definitely on the horizon.
A spokesperson for Mitchells & Butlers said, “We respect the court’s decision. As the jury is still considering charges brought against other defendants in this case, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”
The full sentencing will be carried out next month which will likely leave The Railway Hotel open to civil litigation cases filed by the multiple victims. While the incident is rare it does highlight the absolute importance of safe food preparation and the need for all landlords to have a comprehensive pub insurance policy in place. Whether a food poisoning incident results in a single illness or multiple deaths, having adequate protection will ensure that you and your business will survive the blow.