A DINER suffered kidney failure and five others were hospitalised after eating at a Stratford restaurant in what was described as “a disaster waiting to happen.”
Henry Cheung was prosecuted by Stratford District Council following a salmonella outbreak at the Laughing Buddha in Greenhill Street.
The 60-year-old former manager was ordered to pay more than £20,000 in fines and costs and banned from being involved in the running of any food outlet after pleading guilty to eight food hygiene offences at Leamington Magistrates’ Court.
The court was told how 15 people contracted salmonella after eating at the Chinese restaurant between July and August last year.
Two of the most severe cases saw one man suffer kidney failure while another – the partner of a pregnant woman – experienced an extreme bout of food poisoning, although both recovered.
It is understood the outbreak was triggered by eggs from a supplier previously linked to a similar outbreak in Germany.
Prosecuting, David Armstrong said: “Mr Cheung was the lynchpin of the operation and it was the view of the officers he was not capable of comprehending the requirements of effectively running a food business.
“The premises had a history of low hygiene standards and this situation was a disaster waiting to happen.”
The court heard how the restaurant had been served with several Hygiene Improvement Notices over the years while recent inspections saw the restaurant rated poorly.
An inspection carried out after the outbreak resulted in the restaurant closing voluntarily for a week, but despite this, the eggs were used again, the court heard.
Defending, Andrew Chowdhury said Cheung had been let down by his kitchen manager, who had failed to follow correct procedure.
He maintained Cheung had been unaware of the German supplier’s implication in the salmonella outbreak and said communication may have been a factor with five members of staff speaking three different languages.
He explained Cheung’s position had been primarily ‘front of house’ but admitted he should have made more of an effort to observe kitchen practices and added he had since taken a much more hands-on role in the restaurant.
Cheung was fined £2,000 for the outbreak, £750 for issues relating to cleanliness, £1,000 each for six food hygiene offences and was made to pay the council’s costs of £11,827.51.
Coun Daren Pemberton said: “The council will not tolerate dangerously low food hygiene standards.
“Our officers carry out regular checks to make sure the public is protected, and residents and visitors have the right to expect high food hygiene standards.
“We expect all food businesses to take food hygiene very seriously and do everything they can to protect their customers from food poisoning.
“The council is happy to work with and support food businesses to help improve and maintain these standards.”