Caterers found guilty of causing food poisoning

30 November 2015 in Business and Community safety
The owners of a Plaistow restaurant that catered for a community event where 32 people suffered food poisoning have been found guilty of supplying unsafe food.
Kamran Memon and his wife Farhana Memon who own and manage the Karachi Karahi, restaurant and take away, in Barking Road, were found guilty of supplying unsafe food by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday 13 November.

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

The jury heard that 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 the 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.”

Before the prosecution by Newham Council the couple pleaded guilty to charges of failing to maintain a proper food safety management system and properly train staff.

Councillor Ian Corbett, mayoral advisor for environment and leisure, said: “It is unacceptable that any business can think they can get away with supplying unsafe food to their customers, it is downright dangerous and irresponsible.

“This couple were repeatedly warned by our food safety team to clean up their act, and their utter disrespect for their customers lead to this food poisoning outbreak. I would urge the judge to use the full weight of the law when he considers their sentence.

“I’d also advise anyone looking to book a caterer for an event to do their homework and check the food hygiene ratings which are available from the Food Standards Agency online.”

A pre-sentencing hearing is due to take place at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday 8 December.