Letchworth hotel admits wedding party food poisoning

A HOTEL has been fined thousands of pounds after a number of guests from a wedding party suffered food poisoning.

Letchworth Hall Hotel was ordered to pay more than �12,000 after pleading guilty to two charges of poor food hygiene practice on Friday.

Hertford Magistrates’ Court heard that 49 of the 118 guests at the hotel in Letchworth Lane who had eaten a chicken liver pate starter had reported illness after the meal in September last year.

Subsequently 22 cases of a Campylobacter infection were confirmed, including the bride and groom who both became ill while on honeymoon in Las Vegas. Symptoms of the infection included stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) received the initial complaint five days after the wedding on September 8 and two environmental health officers visited the hotel to investigate.

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The officers established that the chef had cooked the chicken livers to 60 degrees C, in breach of hotel policy and Food Standards Agency guidance which recommends a temperature of 75 degrees C to prevent food poisoning.

Letchworth Hall Hotel admitted undercooking the pate, rendering it unsafe for human consumption, and failing to ensure the kitchen followed the company food safety policy and procedures, including a failure of management to uphold those procedures.

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The chairman of Hertford Magistrates’ stated this was “a serious matter with a significant impact on the bride and groom and their honeymoon” and fined Letchworth Hall Hotel �6300 for the first offence and �2000 for the second. The court also awarded full costs of �3870 to NHDC.

Following the incident last year, the hotel was inspected on May 8, receiving a five out of five rating for food hygiene standards.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, said: “We are pleased that the court recognised the serious nature of these offences, but also that the hotel pleaded guilty and has subsequently taken action to ensure it gained the maximum possible rating at a recent inspection.

“It’s a shame that a failure to follow the correct procedures led to such an unpleasant time for so many people, especially the newly-weds who should have been enjoying their honeymoon at the time. I hope that others can learn from this the importance of cooking food properly.”

A spokesman for Letchworth Hall Hotel said: “Letchworth Hall Hotel wishes to express its deep regret and offer its sincere apologies to Mr and Mrs Hamill and their wedding guests. This incident was unprecedented in our past of catering to countless similar large events, a fact also reflected in our recent receipt of a five star food hygiene rating.”

*Did you suffer from food poisoning at the hotel? If so, call 01438 866210 or email nick.gill@thecomet.net

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