Caterers barred from operating food business after causing food poisoning

22 January 2016 in Community safety and Health
The owners of a Plaistow restaurant that catered for a community event where 32 people suffered food poisoning have been banned from operating a food business.
Kamran Memon and his wife Farhana Memon, of Windermere Gardens, Ilford, who own and managed the Karachi Karahi, restaurant and take away, in Barking Road, were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court today (Friday 22 January).

Following a trial in November 2015 the pair were found guilty of supplying unsafe food. Today Judge Alastair Hammerton sentenced the couple to carry out 150 hours of community service each at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Ahead of the trial the couple had already pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with hygiene improvement notices to maintain a proper food safety management system and properly train staff. They were sentenced to 100 hours of community service for these two counts.

He told the Memons: "You deliberately closed your eyes to the risks by poor food management and went on regardless. Your failure to comply with the hygiene improvement notices amounted to recklessness. Had you complied I'm satisfied that the risks posed by serving inadequately warmed food would have been all but eliminated."

The pair have not been trading at their restaurant since after it was hit by a fire in April 2015.

Councillor Ian Corbett, mayoral advisor for environment and leisure, said: “The judge has been too lenient in his sentencing. Up to 32 people were left with vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps after eating the food prepared by this couple for the event. They repeatedly ignored the warnings to clean up their act from our officers and showed no regard for the safety of their customers. At the very least they should have received a substantial fine, or even time behind bars, for the reckless behaviour they have shown. Community service is little penance.

“I am relieved that they have at least been barred from running a food business. I’m proud of the dedicated effort of our food safety team that this prosecution has been brought and that now everyone knows not to trust this couple to cater at any event.”

Newham Council prosecuted the couple after it investigated complaints of food poisoning following a community event they had catered for in Chigwell, Essex, in 2013.

On 25 August 2013 the restaurant was the sole caterer at an event hosted by the Sindhi Association of Europe (SAE) which attracted more than 140 people from across the country and aboard. The following day several of the guests suffered the symptoms of food poisoning.

Four days after the event SAE contacted Newham Council to report the issue.

The council launched an investigation alongside Public Health England. Following an inspection of the restaurant and after gathering food samples and statements from the couple, the company was immediately served with a notice banning them from providing outside catering.

Newham Council had issued improvement notices on the business before the food poisoning outbreak in August 2013.

In November 2012 following an inspection by the food safety team the restaurant and take away voluntarily closed for a day to undergo deep a clean. After another inspection on 9 July 2013 the restaurant was served with improvement notices for a lack of training for food handlers and for having no food safety management system in place. Following the food poisoning report the council found that neither of the notices had been complied with.

On 1 November 2013 Public Health England concluded their report on the food poisoning outbreak saying: “Laboratory testing did not identify an organism to explain the cause of the illness. However the epidemiological study identified that this was most likely a point source outbreak caused by consumption of chicken biryani.”

Newham Council urges anyone planning to hire caterers for an event or planning a visit to a restaurant to check the business’ food hygiene ratings which are available for free from the Food Standards Agency website.