Jail threat over takeaway food poisoning
A RESTAURANT owner has been warned he could face prison after food prepared at his premises left at least 28 customers with salmonella poisoning.The bacteria, which originated from egg fried rice served at Hung Tat Chung's Chinese restaurant in Wickham Market, left a two-year-old girl and a man aged in his 20s needing hospital treatment.
By Danielle Nuttall
A RESTAURANT owner has been warned he could face prison after food prepared at his premises left at least 28 customers with salmonella poisoning.
The bacteria, which originated from egg fried rice served at Hung Tat Chung's Chinese restaurant in Wickham Market, left a two-year-old girl and a man aged in his 20s needing hospital treatment.
Chung, from Rushmere, appeared before Ipswich magistrates yesterday and pleaded guilty to selling food unfit for human consumption at The Peach Bower Restaurant in Wickham Market.
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He also admitted failing to ensure his premises were kept clean, failing to ensure equipment was clean and a general food safety/hygiene offence.
The case was adjourned until December 8 for a pre-sentence report, but chairman of the bench, David Coe, told Chung all options remained open, including prison.
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The court heard egg fried rice containing salmonella had been served to customers at the restaurant and in takeaways on July 26 last year.
Ian De Prez, prosecuting for Suffolk Coastal District Council, said at least 28 people had been identified as being struck down by the bacteria, although 42 people had reported being ill.
"It's fair to say 28 should taken as a minimum rather than a maximum," he added.
"Of those 28 people, two – a young man in his 20s and a little girl, a two-year-old – had to seek hospital treatment. They were not very seriously ill, but significantly ill to be hospitalised briefly."
Mr De Prez said the prosecution's case was that the outbreak of poisoning had been due to "negligently prepared" egg fried rice.
"The view of the investigating officers was the egg fried rice had been cooked in a negligent manner which increased the risk of this sort of thing happening," he added.
The court was told during inspections of The Peach Bower Restaurant, environmental health officers had also discovered inadequate cleaning of equipment and premises.
"We are not saying the dirty state of the premises or equipment led directly to the salmonella outbreak. We happened to have discovered them at the same time," said Mr De Prez.
"If Chung had done a risk assessment, he would have realised you cook egg fried rice in a manner that doesn't lead to infection."
Paul Booty, mitigating, said it had been the first time Chung had appeared in court in relation to his restaurant business.
He added Chung was not a man whom they needed to have concerns about and said he had complied with all previous health and safety regulations.