A Christmas Day diner died and dozens of others became seriously ill after eating their turkey lunch at a pub where staff paid ‘lip service’ to safety procedures, a court heard today.
Mother-of-one Della Callagher, 46, died after paying £39.95 for the four-course lunch at the Railway Hotel, Hornchurch, Essex, on Christmas Day 2012.
She was among 33 people who fell ill following the alleged outbreak of food poisoning, later attributed to a bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens.
The restaurant’s former owner Ann McSweeney, 40, and ex-chef Mehmet Kaya, 37, deny serving food that was unfit for human consumption.
The pub’s parent company, Mitchell and Butlers PLC, based in Birmingham, also deny the charge at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
McSweeney, of Hornchurch, and Kaya, of Purfleet, Essex, also deny perverting the course of justice by falsifying records in a ‘daily kitchen due diligence log’ relating to the cooking and cooling of turkey meat.
The pair are accused of failing to properly monitor the temperature of the turkey as it cooked.
Following the incident, they allegedly falsified their food safety records to hand to health and safety inspectors.
McSweeney further denies obstructing an officer in the course of their duty by handing the falsified documents to food safety inspectors.
Andrew Campbell-Tiech, prosecuting, told the court: ‘Mehmet Kaya grossly, grossly mismanaged the preparation of the Christmas turkey.
‘By that act he caused his employer, the company, to place unsafe food before its customers on Christmas Day.
‘Miss McSweeney was in overall charge. She knew, she must have known, that Mr Kaya did not follow safety procedures. Her default is clear, she should have intervened. She did not.’
Referring to the charge of perverting the course of justice, Mr Campbell-Tiech said: ‘The actions of Miss McSweeney and Mr Kaya in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy were not those of innocent actors caught up in a tragedy not of their making.
Mr Campbell-Tiech claimed the kitchen logbooks showed ‘the kitchen of The Railway Hotel paid lip service only to the systems the company had prescribed but did not enforce’.
The trial continues.