Food poisoning incident at Northamptonshire pub leaves 1 dead and 31 ill

The  Staff Canteen

A Chef has been charged with contravening food regulations after a 92-year-old woman died and 31 people contracted food poisoning after eating poorly cooked meat at the Crewe Arms Pub in Northamptonshire.

Badly handled meat sadly resulted in the death of a 92-year-old woman and left 31 others violently ill in 2018, a judge heard, as sentencing was pronounced yesterday.

The head chef, named as John Croucher, was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended from cooking professionally for 12 months and no longer works at the village pub, after admitting a charge of contravening food regulations.

'Remorse is an understatement'

As reported by ITV News, the judge heard the story of Elizabeth Neuman, who succumbed to the injuries caused by a tearing of her gastro-intestinal lining. 31 other diners became “unpleasantly ill" after sitting down for their harvest festival supper.

The chef told the judge that he had “been rushing” which led to corners being cut in the preparation of the dish. 

He told the court he had been employed to improve standards in the pub kitchen, which had a one-star food hygiene rating at the time.

Regarding the incident, which took place in October 2018,  he said: "I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but I think I was rushed. I was rushing."

"[It’s] a horrible, horrible circumstance happened and it's something you take with you. I now second guess and third guess everything."

The chef, who had been working in professional kitchens for 20 years, added that, "remorse is an understatement. This is something I will never forget. Because of it, I am a better chef, and it is just a shame the cost of it had to be what it was."

Since the incident, the pub had worked very hard after to raise the standards and had subsequently achieved a five-star food hygiene rating.

The food hygiene rating is a scheme run by the food standards agency that assesses the hygiene levels of restaurants, takeaways, food shops, and cafes. It is all about making sure food is safe to consume in the UK. It run across Wales, England, and Northern Ireland with Scotland having a similar but separate scheme.

Each of the scores means a different thing with five being the best, showing they have an excellent standard of food hygiene. Unlike other ratings, it is expected that all restaurants strive to achieve a level five.

Level 0 is the lowest level where, for example, the business fails to keep records of any safety systems and have significant food hygiene breaches that could put people’s health at immediate risk.

Do not want retribution

The judge heard that the members of the Holy Trinity Church congregation in Hinton-in-the-Hedges did not want retribution against the pub, its landlord, or former chef following the tragic effects of the bacteria in the shepherd's pie.

However, when sentencing, Judge Campbell said, "A healthy and well person died of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage induced from vomiting. No sentence I pass can reflect the loss caused to the family.

What happened?

She added that "Croucher was the chef that night. The mince was not cooked properly and was placed into a pan with iced water. Croucher needed to leave, so put the mince in cling film and put it in the fridge overnight.

"Having left it, he cooked it again and added warm mashed potato. He did not take the temperature when it was served."

She also said the pub had worked hard to maintain support from the community.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd December 2021

Food poisoning incident at Northamptonshire pub leaves 1 dead and 31 ill