White Hart Inn implicated in a foodborne outbreak leaving 25 guests ill from a common gathering

The Food Standards Agency awarded the White Hart Inn a 1-star rating after a foodborne outbreak incident left 2 people hospitalized and others ill from a gathering.

Inspections are a snap shot in time, what did the previous inspections look like for this facility? Any trends identified?

When I was in the field, I had to contend with a severe lack of resources to conduct my work adequately, meaning that a high risk establishment that should have been inspected 4 -6 times within a given year may have seen 1 inspection.

What’s the point?

Staff accordingly, provide the necessary resources to conduct a proper health inspection and ensure management supports your endeavors. It’s about quality not quantity.

Richard Duggan of Essex Live reports:

He said they are still trying to work out what happened
A businessman who runs a country pub has spoken out after a number of his customers contracted a nasty sickness bug.
The White Hart Inn, in Swan Lane, Margaretting Tye, has recently been scrutinised by food hygiene inspectors after the majority of a party became ill following a meal on February 18.
Of the 33 guests who attended the meal, 25 became ill following the outing, with two having to go to hospital because their symptoms were so severe.
Owing to the number of individuals who became sick, Public Health England and Chelmsford Environmental Health launched an investigation.
Following the episode, the pub’s owner, Saran Duffy, has explained how the incident has affected the business and what plans are being put in place to address customers’ concerns.
“All I’m trying to do is run a business here and employ people,” he said.
“We had our food tested – it all passed with flying colours.

What food was tested? Was there remaining food from the day of the incident or new batch?

“In terms of food poisoning, we are not sure how that happened – I’m not saying anybody else is at fault.”
Mr Saran states that tests conducted as part of the inspection of the premises following the outbreak found the restaurant’s food was “safe”.
Statement from a Chelmsford City Council spokesperson following the sickness outbreak
“Chelmsford City Council and Public Health England (PHE) have been made aware that a number of people attending a celebratory meal at an Ingatestone pub suffered with symptoms common with infectious gastroenteritis, although this is yet to be confirmed.
“Chelmsford Environmental Health Officers have been working with PHE and the pub to provide hygiene and infection control advice to help stop the illness spreading.
“PHE has also advised the cases that are poorly what to do to aid recovery and prevent them spreading the germ to others.”
Michele Dawes, from Cranham, was a member of the party that visited the White Hart Inn and then became ill.
“I was ill for five days, really dreadful and some were hit harder than others,” she said.
“It was non-stop for eight hours at a time. Some people just had diarrhoea, some had sickness, some had both. A lot of people were both.
The White Hart Inn is in Margaretting, Ingatestone
“If you have seen that scene from Bridesmaids and there is three of us in our house.”
The large group met for lunch, but following the meal, many fell ill with stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea over the following days.
It is believed that the customers suffered with symptoms common with infectious gastroenteritis, although this is yet to be confirmed through the investigation.
What is infectious gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the guy caused by a virus or bacteria and a type of highly-infectious virus that can be spread. The symptoms are usually connected with sickness and diarrhoea and similar to food poisoning.
The symptoms:
Sudden diarrhoea
Feeling sick (nausea)
Being sick (vomiting)
Stomach ache or cramps
A high temperature of 38C or above
They usually start a few hours or days after picking up a bug.
Michelle contacted the pub after becoming ill and it was later revealed that two staff members had become unwell around the same time.
“When you’re that ill the last thing you want to do is pick up the phone,” she added.
“Everyone is okay, thats the main thing, I took it very seriously.
“The pub has done everything they could to help, I want to stress that.
“It’s a lovely pub and they were lovely about it.”
Once news of the sickness had spread, it had a knock-on effect of the pub’s business.
An inspection of the pub by officers from the Food Standards Agency on February 20 resulted in the business being awarded a one star rating, which means major improvement is necessary.
How are the food hygiene ratings for businesses decided?
There are three categories which make up a food hygiene rating.
Each one is individually graded and adds to the overall score for a business.
Overall ratings can be scored from zero to five.
Below is the most recent food hygiene rating for The White Hart:
Area inspected by food safety officer
Standards found
Hygienic food handling
Hygienic handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
Improvement necessary
Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building
Cleanliness and condition of facilities and building (including having appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control) to enable good food hygiene
Generally satisfactory
Management of food safety
System or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety, and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.
Major improvement necessary
The pub has been awarded a rating of one star which means major improvement is necessary.
Despite the decision, Mr Saran is confident that changes made in the wake of the scandal will result in a more satisfactory rating, but accepts that he cannot “hasten” the re-inspection.
“They could revisit on any day but we will be prepared for it,” he added.
“We should be able to recover our rating from one star, otherwise it’s going to be a very difficult summer for everyone.
“I can only put my hands up and say we are trying and have everything we can within the remit of the environment agency and we look forward to their next visit.”
The White Hart Inn currently has an average rating of 4.5 stars from customers who have left reviews on Trip Advisor.

Another unregistered caterer makes people barf at a wedding in Germany; don’t put flowers in food

In a triumph of food porn over food safety, an investigation into an outbreak of salmonellosis in the summer of 2010 after a wedding party in Bavaria, Germany that sickened at least 52 people failed to pinpoint a specific food source but did uncover a number of disturbing food safety practices – such as adding rose petals to food and no temperature checks — again linked to an unlicensed caterer.

German researchers report in Eurosurveillance this week that in the summer of 2010, a local health office in northern Bavaria, Germany, was informed that approximately half of the 110 guests of a wedding that had taken place the preceding weekend had contracted gastroenteritis. At the wedding party, soup and a late-lunch buffet (served from 3 p.m.) and a cold dinner buffet (served from 10 p.m.) had been provided by an out-of-town caterer. In addition, a wedding cake made by a local bakery and a number of cakes and desserts contributed by different wedding guests were served by the catering staff at 20.00. The food served at the wedding was suspected to be the source of the outbreak. Initial laboratory results of stool samples of some guests who became ill indicated Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis) as the causative pathogen.

According to the caterer, only the meat dishes were prepared at the caterer’s facilities in advance. All sauces, antipasti and salads were made from commercially produced ingredients and were prepared at the wedding party venue. Food items that required cooling were transported in cooling boxes and stored in cooling units at the venue. At the venue, the lunch buffet was set up for six hours, between 2 p.m. (the buffet was set up one hour before it was available to guests) and 8 p.m. No checks were carried out of holding temperatures of the warm or cold dishes. Salads and other cold dishes were not cooled during this period. Photographs of the buffet showed that a number of the cold dishes were decorated with non-edible flowers (such as roses), which were inserted into the food. The flowers had been purchased at a wholesale retailer. Cakes supplied by a number of wedding guests were stored without cooling until they were served at 20:00. The dishes of the dinner buffet were not cooled. They were first served at 10 p.m. It is unclear for how long the dishes of the dinner buffet were served; however, it is known that the catering personnel departed at 00.30.

Inspection of the catering facilities and interview of the catering staff revealed a number of shortcomings contravening European food hygiene regulations. The facilities used by the caterer were not registered with the local authorities. There were no records of the required staff training on food hygiene. No temperature controls of cooling devices or transport boxes were carried out, nor were temperatures monitored during preparation or serving of warm dishes. There were no records of HACCP concept planning or implementation. The company was banned from catering until proof of changes in their practices had been provided to the local authorities.

The cohort study showed that a variety of dishes were associated with a significantly increased risk of infection: in particular consumption of a group of lunch dishes containing mayonnaise was associated with a high relative risk. Despite the constraint of a two-week delay between the wedding party and the questionnaires being sent out, participants appeared to recollect well which dishes they had consumed.

The isolation of S. Enteritidis from two of the food samples at the wedding party was judged to show that the food served posed a health risk, as all the food items were ready for consumption without requiring further preparation or heating. The isolation of indistinguishable Salmonella strains from the food samples as well as from stool samples of respondents and catering personnel supported the hypothesis that the outbreak was foodborne.

There are several possibilities for the source of the Salmonella contamination in this outbreak. Mayonnaise is a well-recognized vehicle of contamination when raw egg is used as an ingredient. However, in this outbreak all cold dishes and salads were made from commercially prepared ingredients. As commercially produced mayonnaise and sauces are conventionally based on pasteurized ingredients, it is unlikely that they would be the primary source of contamination. Commercial mayonnaise by itself is also not suitable for Salmonella propagation, due to its low pH adjusted by acetic acid. However, addition of mayonnaise to other salad ingredients may alter the overall acetic acid concentration of the mixture, thus providing a suitable base for proliferation once the pathogen has been introduced by secondary contamination.

The environmental investigation revealed a number of infringements of food safety regulations, including a lack of staff training and the absence of records of a food safety concept according to the HACCP principles. Lack of temperature controls for food storage and transport as well as prolonged presentation of buffet dishes at room temperature provided ideal conditions for pathogen proliferation, regardless of the primary source of contamination.

While they do not replace official controls, the HACCP principles are central to the European concept of food safety by helping food business operators to attain a high standard of food safety. Successful implementation of procedures based on the HACCP principles requires the full cooperation and commitment of food business employees. Adequate training of personnel is central to achieving this goal.

The outbreak investigated in this study demonstrates the consequences of lack of staff training and the failure to identify hazards to food safety, as well as failure to implement control measures to mitigate such hazards. The use of flowers as food decoration demonstrated insufficient understanding of the potential for contamination through products that are not intended for food production and therefore not subject to food hygiene regulations.

Intelligently implemented food hygiene concepts not only benefit the consumer but are also very much in the interest of the food business operator, whose business can be threatened by food-borne outbreaks. Initial hygiene and food safety training for food business operators should therefore also explain microbiological principles underlying food safety practices in order to equip the businesses with the required background knowledge and motivation to design and implement an intelligent food safety/HACCP concept, including the consideration and identification of potential sources of contamination. Explicit mention of the dangers of the use of non-edible flowers for decoration should be considered in guides to good practice, which are a valuable instrument to aid food business operators with compliance with food hygiene rules and with the application of the HACCP principles.

The complete paper is available at http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=20076.