Pub chain guilty of serving unsafe food that led to 33 diners being taken ill

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch - Credit: Archant

A pub chain has been found guilty of placing unsafe meat on the market following an incident of food poisoning in December 2012, after which a woman died.

Mitchells & Butlers, which owns the Railway Hotel, Hornchurch, was found guilty by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday.

A total of 33 diners became ill and mother-of-one Della Callagher, 46, of Hornchurch, died after eating a Christmas dinner at the hotel.

Havering Council visited the premises, in Hornchurch, shortly after receiving complaints from diners.

A year-long investigation ensued which found that the reason for the illnesses was food poisoning.

During the trial Snaresbrook Crown Court heard the poisoning was caused by clostridium perfringens bacteria because meat was not was not cooked or reheated properly.

Birmingham based Mitchells & Butlers was charged with failing to comply with the requirements of Article 14(1) of Regulation (EC) 178/2002 by placing food on the market that was unsafe, and unfit for human consumption.

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Early in the trial, the company accepted it had placed unsafe turkey meat on the market but argued that it took all reasonable precautions to prevent the offence.

The company would be have been found not guilty if the jury had accepted that they had taken all reasonable precautions. But a jury found it guilty yesterday after about 15 hours of deliberations.

Cllr Osman Dervish, cabinet member for regulatory services, said: “This is the right result for all of those involved. This was clearly a very serious food poisoning incident.

“We have put a lot of time into investigating this offence, which has shown that the company did not do everything it could to prevent this outbreak from happening.”

Verdicts in the trials of former head chef, Mehmet Kaya, 37, of Water Lane, Purfleet, and former manager, Ann-Marie McSweeney, 40, of Suttons Avenue, Hornchurch, are yet to be decided.

McSweeney denies placing unsafe food on the market, obstructing an officer, and perverting the course of justice. Kaya denies perverting the course of justice and placing unsafe food on the market.