Friday, 10th April 2009

UK: Butcher admits 'lapse' which led to E. Coli outbreak

Source of Article:


Published Date: 09 April 2009

A YORKSHIRE butcher has been ordered to pay 2,400 in court costs for selling cooked meat linked to a food poisoning outbreak.

Fifty three people, including children and the elderly, were poisoned in the outbreak in April and May 2007 which was traced to Spauls butchers in Cottingley, near Bradford.

Traces of the E.Coli 0157 organism were traced from samples taken at the

shop which were matched to samples taken from victims.

Magistrates today gave the owner of the shop, Mark Spauls, 38, of Burley-in-Wharfedale, a conditional discharge after hearing evidence that the shop had a strict cleaning regime but there had been a "momentary lapse" in standards.

Spauls admitted one charge of selling unfit cooked meat. All charges were dropped against his brother Darren Spauls, 34, of Keighley, who was in charge of the shop on a day to day basis but has since left the firm.

The court heard customers, including people affected by the food poisoning, had supported the butcher and written letters to the court to say they did not hold him personally responsible.

In one letter read to the court, Sarah Mackinder, of Cottingley, said: "Both myself and my daughter Megan were affected by the outbreak. I have since found great confidence in using my local butcher again.

"I buy produce from the butcher in question and have never seen any problems with hygiene or anything else."

And customer Dr Dale Halford, a surgeon from Cottingley, said in a letter that he had been a customer for seven years.

He said his own mother had contracted E.Coli linked to the butcher but "in no way holds them responsible for her illness".

"She feels saddened that her illness maybe being held against them. I feel very lucky to have a high quality butchers on my doorstep," said Dr Dale.

Lawyer Dominic Kay, on behalf of Mark Spauls, said the E.coli was not created in the shop but would have been brought in on a carcass.

He said Mr Spauls and his staff would continue to treat food hygiene and cleanliness as top priorities.

John Major, Bradford Council's Assistant Director for Environmental Health, said after the hearing:"This incident caused a great deal of avoidable suffering to many people and it is hoped this case sends out a clear message to other businesses that food safety must remain paramount.



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