Mum of five-year-old E-coli victim Mason Jones nominated for Mum of the Year award

Sharon Mills, the mother of five-year-old Mason Jones who died in an E. coli O157 outbreak in 2005, has been nominated for a Mum of the Year title for her campaigning work to improve food safety.

Madeleine Brindle of the South Wales Echo reports that Sharon, 36, who has two other sons Cavan(corr), seven, and Chandler, 14, has recently been at the forefront of the campaign to make the display of food hygiene scores mandatory.

The Welsh Government has said it will introduce legislation to ensure all takeaways and restaurants display their scores.

“There have been a considerable amount of changes made [in food hygiene laws] since 2005 and there are more tools for parents to find out more about where they and their children are eating. I don’t want his death to go in vain.”

Mum of E. coli victim backs UK hygiene ratings

Sharon Mills, whose young son Mason Jones died in an E. coli O157 outbreak six years ago, has welcomed a new law that aims to force takeaways and restaurants to disclose hygiene records.

The Welsh Government will put forward legislation making it compulsory for all food businesses to put scores on their doors.

Currently it is up to the individual business whether to display their hygiene ratings – introduced last October – which range from five (excellent) to zero (in urgent need of improvement).

Mills told Media Wales,

“Consumers deserve to have this at-a-glance information because it can be hard work trying to find it. It will raise public confidence – it’s important people are able to make a choice about where the best and safest place to eat is.

A Welsh Government spokesman said,

“Wales will be the first country in the UK to introduce a mandatory food hygiene rating scheme.”

E. coli mum’s call for justice

The mother of E. coli victim Mason Jones, along with other affected families, has spoken of their anger at the lack of justice for their children more than five years after the outbreak which sickened 157.

The families, including Mason’s mum, Sharon Mills, claim butcher William Tudor effectively “got away” with causing the world’s sixth largest E.coli outbreak.

Their outrage comes after another rogue food trader was jailed this week for breaching food safety regulations.

Ramazan Aslan, who owned the Llay Fish Bar, near Wrexham, was sentenced to eight months in prison by Mold Crown Court.

In sharp contrast, Tudor, who caused the 2005 South Wales outbreak, served just 12 weeks in jail after being sentenced to a year in September 2007.

He had pleaded guilty to six counts of supplying E .coli-infected meat to schools in South Wales and of breaching food hygiene regulations.

The subsequent E.coli public inquiry said Tudor, who ran John Tudor & Sons on Bridgend Industrial Estate, rode roughshod over essential food safety rules as he cut corners to cut costs.

Sharon Mills told Wales on Sunday,

“The eight-month sentence is good because it shows the courts are taking this more seriously. But the fact that Tudor only got four months extra doesn’t seem right. Even if this guy [Aslan] serves half his sentence it will still be longer than Tudor did.

“This bloke rightly deserves time in prison for what he’s done, but Tudor’s actions killed someone and left all these other children with long-term damage and uncertain futures. Tudor got away with it. I feel as though all the fighting we’ve done over the last five years has been for nothing.”

Julie Price’s 15-year-old son Garyn was one of nine of Tudor’s victims who needed dialysis after contracting E. coli O157. He may need a kidney transplant in the future.

“We’re still living with the consequences of what Tudor did. We said at the time that his sentence wasn’t long enough and this sentence [Aslan’s] confirms it.

“Tudor did the same, if not worse, than this shop owner – he blatantly ignored the risks and the warning and we’re still suffering the consequences.”

Mason’s mum: change the law

When a coroner ruled last week a lack of food hygiene standards at a Welsh butchery was the cause of 5-year-old Mason Jones’ death but there was insufficient evidence to prove “a serious and obvious risk of death,” Sharon Mills was stunned.

Mason’s mum told Abby Alford of Wales online,

“To me this is a travesty of justice.”

Ms Mills, 36, from Deri, near Bargoed, said she and partner Nathan Jones, Mason’s father, are considering calling for a change in the law which meant Bridgend butcher William Tudor – the man responsible for the 2005 outbreak during which more than 150 people were infected with potentially deadly E. coli O157 – escaped a manslaughter charge.

Last week’s verdict followed a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2007 not to pursue a manslaughter case because there was not a realistic prospect of conviction.

“Last Thursday after the inquest I woke up and I felt like I had lost Mason all over again. It’s been us versus the system and it’s a hard system to beat.”

Ms Mills said despite the support of some officials, she believes the pace of change in improving food safety systems has been painfully slow following the 24 recommendations for improvement put forward by expert Professor Hugh Pennington after the public inquiry.

Mason’s mum vows to fight for justice; FSA will try harder

Although Coroner David Bowen said butcher William Tudor’s disregard for food hygiene sparked an E. coli O157 outbreak that claimed the life of 5-year-old Mason Jones in 2005, the “horrific catalogue” of breaches was not enough for him to record the verdict as unlawful death.

While disappointed, Mason’s mom, Sharon Mills, told the South Wales Echo she was grateful Mr Bowen called for tougher enforcement of food hygiene laws and better regulation of food businesses.

Steve Wearne, director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales, said,

“We are determined to ensure that lessons are learned from the tragic death of Mason Jones. We have provided guidance to local authorities that aims to ensure that each intervention in a food business – whether advice, inspection or enforcement – moves it towards full compliance with the law.

“We will shortly issue a public consultation on extending the use of Remedial Action Notices to all food premises. These notices would allow local authority enforcement officers to require a process or activity in a food business that poses a significant risk to human health to be stopped immediately, and would not allow it to recommence until specified action to reduce the risk had been taken.”

Coroner returns verdict in Mason’s 2005 E. coli O157 death

BBC is reporting that the coroner at the inquest into a five-year-old boy who died in an E. coli outbreak in south Wales has recommended stronger enforcement of food hygiene laws, but would not back a verdict of manslaughter by gross negligence.

David Bowen said Mason Jones, from Deri near Bargoed, died after eating infected meat prepared with disregard for good food hygiene.

About 160 people became ill in the 2005 outbreak – the UK’s second largest.

The two-day inquest in Newport heard that butcher William John Tudor, 58, of Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, had sold rotten meat for years, and that the butcher was aware of the risks he was taking using the same equipment for cooked and uncooked meats.

One vacuum packer was used for packaging raw and cooked meats supplied to schools and care homes across south Wales.

Sounds like manslaughter to me, but Mr Bowen disagreed.

"I have agonised over a verdict of unlawful killing but despite substantial, some might say horrific, breaches of food hygiene regulations the evidence is not strong enough. There is little doubt Mason was owed a duty of care and a catalogue of failures to observe basic food hygiene breached that duty. But it is not enough for there to be a breach of the duty of care, however extensive and reprehensible that may be."

Mason’s mother Sharon Mills, a police community support officer, who now campaigns for food safety, wept as the verdict was returned.

‘E. coli destroyed Mason’s organs from the inside’

Sharon Mills, the mother of E. coli victim Mason Jones told a coroner’s inquest today,

“It’s not just a tummy bug; it’s not just diarrhea,” she said. “It killed Mason’s organs and destroyed him from the inside. I didn’t realize that at the time because on the outside he just looked healthy.”

The South Wales Echo reports the inquest heard that Mason, who had only just started having school dinners at Deri Primary School that month, had eaten cold gammon and turkey supplied by butcher William Tudor.

Schools run by Caerphilly council used the cold cooked meats in sandwiches and served it with warm gravy – the meat was not reheated.

Ms Mills told the inquest she had repeatedly tried to get medical help for Mason – “I rang anyone who would listen” – but he was sent home.

Ms Mills told the inquest, at Newport Coroner’s Court, the age of “light-touch” regulation of abattoirs and meat processing plants must end after it heard evidence of Tudor’s disregard for food hygiene at his Bridgend plant.

It emerged he was still trying to sell meat unfit for human consumption during the E.coli outbreak; that he sold frozen New Zealand mutton as Welsh lamb and ordered his staff to turn rotten meat into faggots.

Detective Superintendent Paul Burke, of South Wales Police, who investigated Tudor following Mason’s death, said independent food safety experts consulted by the force had concluded the “prevailing culture in the business was not about food safety but the emphasis was on making and saving money.”

Ms Mills told the inquest she wanted E. coli expert Professor Hugh Pennington to be invited back to Wales to examine whether his recommendations from the public inquiry had been implemented.

“I want to avoid this happening to another family and to stop rogue traders from allowing contaminated meat to get into the food chain. If this prevents another death then I know my son’s death won’t have been in vain.”

Mother of E. coli victim prepares for inquest in Wales

Sharon Mills has waited over five years to tell a coroner how her 5-year-old son spent his final days dying from E. coli O157.

The long-awaited inquest into the death of E.coli victim Mason Jones is due to begin in front of Gwent coroner David Bowen, in Newport.

Wales Online reports Mason died on October 4, 2005, at Bristol Children’s Hospital, around two weeks after contracting the food poisoning bug. He was one of 158 victims, most of them children, struck down by the O157 strain.

The start of the inquest has been delayed to allow the completion of the South Wales Police investigation into Mason’s death, the prosecution of Bridgend butcher William Tudor under food hygiene laws and to allow E.coli expert Professor Hugh Pennington to conduct a public inquiry.

His report, which laid the blame for the outbreak firmly on the shoulders of Tudor but also identified serious failings in local authority inspection and procurement procedures, will form part of the evidence that Mr Bowen will consider before giving his verdict.

Ms. Mills, 36, from Deri, near Bargoed, said,

“This is what we have been waiting for for five years. I just hope that justice prevails. … The feeling that I need to get justice has taken over my life over the last five years and the end is near now and I am scared that we are not going to get the outcome that Mason deserves. I’m just hoping that I find the strength from somewhere to get through the next couple of days. I have experienced the worst thing I can ever experience, but having to deal with the inquest comes second. The hurt never goes away when you lose a child. You never get over it – you learn to live alongside it.”

Three-year-old recovering from E coli but woman still in coma

A three-year-old girl who needed dialysis after being caught up in an E coli outbreak is beginning to recover in hospital, her parents said today.

Abigail Hussey suffered kidney failure after eating from a takeaway in Wrexham, north Wales, and is one of two people undergoing hospital treatment after the outbreak last month. Karen Morrisroe-Clutton, a new mother who also had kidney failure, remains in a medically induced coma at Wrexham Maelor hospital. The North East Wales NHS trust said she was in a serious but stable condtion.

She is in Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool, which today released a statement from her mother, Sarah, who also fell ill, and her father, Jeff.

"Abigail’s condition deteriorated and she was eventually referred to Wrexham hospital, who transferred her immediately to Alder Hey on Monday 27 July. She tested positive for E coli and was placed on dialysis. We are very relieved that Abigail is beginning to recover, is off dialysis and is eating and drinking quite well."

Sharon Mills, the mother of E. coli victim Mason Jones (left) said the latest Wales outbreak has brought horrific memories flooding back.

“It’s terrible that more people are having to go through this. Mason fought for two weeks until he couldn’t fight any more and ever since I have fought on for him as I don’t want his death to be in vain.”

While the cause of the North Wales outbreak remains under investigation, Mills said she believes both the authorities and the public still fail to fully appreciate the terrible consequences of E.coli infection.

The Llay Fish Bar was allowed to continue business even though environmental health inspectors found poor hygiene conditions and was awarded the lowest rating of no stars during the August 2008 inspection.

Mills said:

“The threat of E.coli is not being taken on board. People really need to start listening and they need to start listening now. The message needs to be drummed home that E.coli is serious and can affect anyone, not just those with underlying health problems. it’s such a powerful bacteria.”