for the month of July, 2016

Toby Carvery Exeter norovirus outbreak victims a step closer to compensation

11th of July 2016

Nearly 300 people look set to receive compensation after falling ill as a result of a norovirus outbreak at Exeter’s Toby Carvery.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing those affected, said they have reached the next stage of their legal battle after restaurant owners Mitchells & Butlers Retail Ltd admitted breach of duty to the group.

This means the company will pay compensation to all clients who can establish that their illness and other related losses, such as lost earnings, were caused through the breach of duty.

A total of 280 people instructed the specialist public health department at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the cause of an illness outbreak over the Easter period in April 2015 during which the restaurant was closed on more than one occasion for deep cleaning.


The law firm has now secured the admission from the company which means victims are one step closer to receiving fair settlements for the illness they suffered, which left many unable to work for a number of days and ruined other customers’ holidays in the area.

It is estimated that total damages for the group action will be over £500,000, though lawyers are still gathering medical evidence.

Amandeep Dhillon, a public health lawyer leading the case, who has dealt with cases such as the Newcastle Spice Festival outbreak in 2013 and the fatal Stoke Legionnaires outbreak in 2012, said: “Illness outbreaks of this scale in the UK are obviously a real concern as they become more prevalent and we were approached by almost 300 people who fell ill after visiting the Exeter Arms during a short period of time.

“We are pleased that Mitchells & Butlers Retail Ltd have admitted a breach of duty in this case and we are working with our clients to gather the necessary evidence to prove that they fell ill after visiting the pub.

“We also hope that by taking legal action important lessons will be learned when it comes to dealing with outbreaks of illness in premises like this, where large numbers of people come together.

“In this instance the pub was closed after illness was reported to the management but continued to trade over the Easter weekend after closing for one day. However, further people fell ill after the pub reopened and it was closed once again for a specialist clean, along with the adjoining hotel.

“Through our work we know just how debilitating gastric illness can be and the significant impact it can have on the day-to-day lives of victims, as well as the long term effects which more vulnerable people can sometimes face.”

Read more: 

2 dead, 151 sick: UK says stop using imported rocket (lettuce), but not blaming anyone

15th of July 2016

Continuing in the fairytale theme that purveyors of food have the best interest of consumers at heart, as do taxpayer funded regulators, Public Health England have told a small number of wholesalers to stop using imported rocket leaves in their salad mixes, as investigations into a major E. coli outbreak continue.

lettuce.skull.e.coli.O145The outbreak had so far claimed two lives, PHE said today, with a total of 151 cases identified, 62 of which required hospital care.

Director of Public Health England, Dr Isabel Oliver, said  “PHE is using various approaches including whole genome sequencing (WGS) technologies to test samples from those affected. WGS technologies are at the forefront of improving the diagnosis of infectious diseases and this testing has indicated that the strain involved is likely to be an imported strain, possibly from the Mediterranean area.

“PHE is also working closely with the Food Standards Agency to trace, sample and test salad products grown in the UK and other parts of Europe.

“All food sample results to date have been negative for E.coli O157, but it’s important to be aware that where food has been contaminated with E.coli O157, it is not always possible to identify the bacteria on food testing.

“As an additional precautionary measure, we have advised a small number of wholesalers to cease adding some imported rocket leaves to their mixed salad products pending further investigations

The UK Food Standards Agency said in the most bureaucratic way possible – with 2 dead and 151 sick – it is continuing to work closely with PHE and local authorities to investigate an outbreak of E.coli O157. The outbreak has been linked to eating mixed salad leaves, including rocket leaves, however a specific food source has not been confirmed at this stage.

As a precaution, the FSA is reminding people of the importance of good hand and food hygiene practices. All vegetables, including salads, intended to be eaten raw should be thoroughly washed unless they are specifically labelled ‘ready to eat’. Investigations are ongoing.

NHS hospital sandwiches can kill you: Top scientists blames patients' food for cases of lethal listeria infection

18th of July 2016
  • Pre-packed sandwiches could be contaminated with a lethal bug: report
  • Listeria can trigger meningitis and kills up to 30 per cent of those infected
  • Food safety company believes patients may be dying from infected sarnies 

Hospitals are risking patients’ lives by serving them sandwiches contaminated with a lethal bug, say experts in a shocking report.

The danger comes in pre-packed sandwiches, a popular menu option with many patients – and one that NHS managers like because they are cheap and easy to serve.

But food safety advisers are warning that they can contain the deadly bug listeria, which can trigger meningitis. It also kills up to 30 per cent of those it infects.


Food safety company STS believes patients may be dying from eating infected sandwiches

The report says that pre-packed sandwiches have been responsible for ‘almost all’ hospital outbreaks of listeria since 2003.

The bug kills around 50 people a year in England, according to official figures, with most deaths thought to be due to food being prepared and stored incorrectly.

Food safety company STS, which advises hospitals and care homes, believes patients may also be dying from eating infected sandwiches at these institutions.

Fiona Sinclair, director of food safety at STS, said: ‘Hospitals and care homes feed the most vulnerable people in society. The last thing these people need is to get something else on top of their illness.’

The report, written by Ms Sinclair and colleagues, says: ‘Research into previous [listeria] outbreaks in hospitals found that almost all were linked to consumption of pre-packed sandwiches.’

These cases ‘were thought to have been caused by low-level contamination during manufacture in the factory, followed by a breakdown in the control of the cold chain in the hospitals’. During recent inspections, Ms Sinclair found sandwiches were being kept in fridges that were not cold enough, staff were serving packs past their use-by date, and sandwiches were being left on trolleys for lengthy periods before being handed to patients.

The firm’s report, commissioned by the Food Standards Agency, has prompted the FSA to revise its guidance to hospitals and care homes on minimising the risk of listeria.

The listeria bug, which food safety experts warn can be found in pre-packed sandwiches

Measures include cutting maximum fridge temperatures from 8C to 5C.

Welcoming the new rules, STS said: ‘The thought that a loved one should lose their life from eating a sandwich in hospital is ridiculous.’

Ms Sinclair said the research, undertaken with Surrey University, identified nine hospital listeria outbreaks across the UK since 2003. Each case affected between two and seven patients. Ms Sinclair said it was unclear from the data they had seen if anyone died from listeria infection during these outbreaks.

The fact that the bug kills up to 30 per cent of people in ‘vulnerable groups’ – such as pregnant women and the elderly – suggests that some did.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said: ‘If somebody is at death’s door, they could be finished off by a sandwich.

‘Listeria can be lethal – it’s as simple as that. It’s one of the nastiest food bugs there is.’

Ms Sinclair said one positive finding was that none of the hospitals previously affected appeared to have suffered a repeat occurrence, suggesting they had improved their practices.

Steve Naldrett, director at Ardan Training Consultancy Ltd says "this shows the importance of catering staff understanding the effect temperature has on patogenic bacteria. If they understand the principles, then food storage would be more prominent feature in their minds"


Read more: