Hotel fined over food poisoning

A Bristol hotel has been fined £65,000 following a food poisoning outbreak.

Bristol magistrates imposed the fine on 3 June on Eclipse Hotels (Bristol) Ltd, trading as Holiday Inn, Bristol City Centre. The hotel had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three offences relating to the sale of unsafe food between 24-30 November 2013 and fourth concerning failure to implement an effective food safety management system.

The case followed incidents of food poisoning at three events at the Holiday Inn Bristol City Centre, where at least 44 people were believed to have been infected and three were admitted to hospital.

Following the first reports of gastroenteritis on 2 December 2013, food safety officers at Bristol City Council investigated and found all guests with confirmed food poisoning were positive for campylobacter.

All those with symptoms had eaten chicken liver parfait, which was found to be the source of the infection.

A single batch of the dish had been prepared in advance and served to each of the affected parties over a seven-day period. Interviews with staff indicated the lack of a robust system for ensuring the parfait was adequately cooked to kill bacteria.

Senior environmental health officer Nicky Downey said: “This case underlines the necessity of ensuring that whatever preparation method is used it must be designed to ensure that there are no food poisoning bacteria left in the finished product.

“The food safety management systems that food business operators are required to implement are an essential tool in ensuring that businesses produce safe food.”

Failure to comply with food safety rules can result in a fine of up to £20,000 per Food Safety Act offence and a prison sentence of up to six months in the magistrates courts, with potential penalties rising to jail terms of up to two years and/or unlimited fines if a case goes to Crown Court.

Palmers’ food safety specialists can provide expert advice on compliance with food safety legislation and assist during food safety investigations, with the aim of avoiding prosecutions, which can be costly in terms of time, money and reputational damage.

For more information on how we can assist in the event of investigations, verbal or written warnings issued by local authorities, improvement notices, emergency prohibition notices or prosecutions, please contact Jeremy Sirrell.