We won’t get caught. No one got sick yesterday, so there’s a greater chance no one will get sick today.
These basics of of the human psyche continue to undermine tragedies from Bhopal to BP to the Challenger and food safety.
But with all the toys and technology, you’ll be found out – so act accordingly, even if decent humanity is not enough against the directive of profit.
A meat processor, its director and an employee have admitted selling Listeria-contaminated meat to the Hawke’s Bay Hospital and omitting to provide test results showing meat had tested positive.
The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board discovered cold ready to eat meats supplied by the company was contaminated in July 2012, after a number of Listeria cases had been linked to the hospital kitchen.
The outbreak claimed the life of 68-year-old Patricia Hutchinson on June 9 that year, and contributed to the death of an 81-year-old woman on July 9. Two other people were infected.
Bay Cuisine has pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Food Act and was not charged in connection with the Listeria infections.
When the health board discovered a link between the infections and the hospital kitchen it sent 62 unopened plastic pouches of Bay Cuisine meat products to ESR for testing. All the pouches were found to contain Listeria.
A summary of facts complied by the Ministry for Primary Industries said the company had the contract to supply the hospital since 2002.
The summary states that on July 9, 2012 the DHB requested copies of all test results Bay Cuisine had carried out for Listeria. Production manager Christopher Mackie replied by telling the DHB a batch of corned silverside had tested negative for Listeria, when in fact it had tested “presumptive positive”.
The following day an officer from the Ministry, investigating the Listeria cases at the hospital, requested test results. Mackie sent these on July 13 but again omitted reports showing that some products had tested “presumptive positive”.
But analysis of cellphone text messages between MacKie and company director Garth Wise show that on the evening of July 12 Wise had sent a text to Mackie suggesting that he “hold back the presumptive listeria ones [results] as there is only 3 or 4 of them and we just send the good”.
A subsequent search of the Bay Cuisine premises by the Ministry found the company had not provided the original, correct spreadsheet to the Ministry. This spreadsheet showed positive Listeria tests for meat products on June 18 and July 10.
Bay Cuisine, Wise and Mackie appeared in Napier District Court on Friday.
Through its lawyer Jonathan Krebs the company pleaded guilty to five representative charges of selling contaminated food, one charge of suppressing test results and one charge of omitting to provide information to the Ministry. Mackie pleaded guilty to one charge of suppressing test results and one of omitting information. Wise pleaded guilty to one charge of omitting information.
More than 140 other charges were dropped by the Ministry. The company and the men vacated not-guilty pleas that had entered a year ago.
Other charges to which the company pleaded guilty related to meats it had provided to various outlets between May and July 2012.
The company faces a fine of up to $500,000 on the charges of deception and omitting information and fines of up to $5000 for each of the other five charges. Wise and Mackie faces a maximum fine of $100,000.