Christine Morgan, 71, became violently sick after eating a set 'pensioner’s lunch' deal at the Clock & Key, Trispen, Cornwall, on 11 August 2015 and died the following day. Another diner became ill but recovered.
Cornwall Council's public protection department investigated her death and discovered poisonous Clostridium Perfringens bacteria in lamb from the pub as well as in stool and DNA samples.
The pub’s owner, Lake Inns & Leisure Ltd, pleaded guilty to service of unfit food last week (25 January) at Truro Crown Court and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,836.09.
Manager Diane Elizabeth Burrow, who prepared the lamb the weekend before it was re-heated and served to Morgan by a member of staff, also pleaded guilty and was fined £750.
The court heard there were doubts as to how adequately the lamb joint had been cooled and that there was no evidence of documented training to the member of staff that served the dish on the day.
Sentencing judge HHJ Carr said: “There is no doubt that the source of the pathogen was the food, there were clearly systematic failures in circumstances when food safety had just been allowed to drift along rather than be properly emphasised within the business.”
The court was told that Lake Inns & Leisure had previously employed a food hygiene consultant but failed to act on the advice given.
Cornwall Council senior environmental health officer Timothy Bage said: “This is a tragic case in which a man has lost his wife, a couple have lost their livelihood and the pub company its reputation.
“There are key hygiene messages here that encapsulate the failings of the food business operators – we urge [operators] to treat boned and rolled joints differently than whole meat joints, we encourage them to cool quickly and thoroughly using active cooling techniques, and we want them to reheat the food properly.”
Morgan’s death was “wholly avoidable”, he said.