Restaurant owners prosecuted after 142 customers contracted rare e-coli strain

Two restaurant owners in Nottingham have been given four-month prison terms suspended for a year, as well as being ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work each, after 142 of their customers contracted a rare strain of e-coli.

Customers of the Khyber Pass in Hyson Green Nottingham suffered with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea after an outbreak of an extremely rare strain of the bug last June.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that staff at the restaurant failed to wash their hands after using the toilet.

One victim, a 13-year-old girl required hospital treatment with a consultant saying the infection could have been fatal if it had been left untreated.

In addition, 9 out of 12 members of staff who handled food were found to have traces of the bacteria themselves.

The strain of e-coli was so rare that it is believed to be the only second recorded case in Europe. Prosecutor, Bernard Thorogood said “Its only known reservoir is the human gut.

"You realise the way it was transmitted was by use of incorrect hand washing after using the lavatory to defecate.

"A cough can't do it, a handshake could if it's an infected hand which means it was not washed after using the lavatory."

In delivering his judgement, His Honour Judge Jeremy Lea said  "If you make money by supplying cooked food to members of the public, you owe a real duty of care to ensure that people will not be made unwell by your disregard for food safety and hygiene regulations. This is not simply red tape that you have failed to comply with."

He also said each of the victims should be paid £200 compensation by the defendants as well as paying costs of £25,752.36.

Food safety lawyer Tina Patel said “Food hygiene and the safety of consumers is paramount and this prosecution highlights the penalties which the courts can impose on those who fail to meet the requisite standards.

“People who are handling and serving food to others in the food industry have a duty of care to consumers and must comply with the existing regulations.

“At Leigh Day we have set up a campaign group, Expect it’s safe: food and drink, which is campaigning for food companies and the hospitality sector to make sure that the food and drink they produce and serve are safe for consumers as we feel this is paramount.”