Food executive sentenced to jail over E. coli outbreak

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Escherichia coli Foodborne illness

Breaching food safety rules can lead to jail, as the executive of a
UK food manufacturer has discovered.

William John Tudor of John Tudor & Son, in Bridgend, South Wales was sentenced by Cardiff Crown Court on Friday to a year in jail for seven offences relating to a fatal outbreak of E.coli O157 in 2005. The sentence emphasises the need for processors to follow the tougher food safety laws and more stringent requirements they increasingly have to follow since these came into effect beginning in 2004. It also indicates that regulators are taking a tougher line on breaches of food safety regulations. Tudor, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was head of a processor that supplied meat to local area schools. An outbreak of E.coli 0157 in September 2005 that led to 157 cases of food poisoning - and one death - was traced back to contaminated meat supplied by the company. Joy Whinney, director of FSA Wales said that the sentence serves as a reminder to food businesses of the need to be vigilant about public safety and to meet their responsibilities. "Putting public health first must be paramount for all food businesses and failure to do so can, as this case has shown, have tragic consequences,"​ Whinney stated. According to a BBC report on Tudor's trial, Cardiff Crown Court heard that a vacuum-packing machine was "wrongly used"​ for both raw and cooked meats. Evidence submitted before the court included the finding that juices from raw meat frequently got into the vacpacker during the packaging process. The court also heard evidence that an employee was told by Tudor not to use the vacpacker for cooked meat whenever food inspectors were visiting, the BBC stated. The breakdown in food safety was the source of contaminated meat to schools, the court heard. A regulatory report into the incident and the possible breakdown of the inspection system is due to be published soon. In June Cadbury was fined £1m after pleaded guilty in a UK court to three breaches of the country's food and hygiene regulations, admitting it was responsible for allowing salmonella-contaminated chocolate to be sold on the market last year. The company was forced to recall about one million chocolate bars after 37 people fell sick across the country due to salmonella. Cadbury was cited as failing at the time to follow new EU-wide hygiene rules, known as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) analysis. The company said it has spent about £20m since last year on "new and rigorous" quality control procedures.

Related topics Processing & Packaging