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HUSH welcome E.coli Inquiry findings

Professor Hugh Pennington has published his inquiry into the E.coli outbreak in Wales in 2005

Photo of coli bacteria: istock

27 March 2009

Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome Help (HUSH), the UK E.coli Support Group, welcome the publication of Professor Hugh Pennington’s report “The Public Inquiry into the September 2005 Outbreak of E.coli O157 in South Wales” on 19th March 2009.

The 2005 outbreak led to the death of five-year old Mason Jones with 156 people also becoming ill. Contaminated raw and cooked meat supplied by William Tudor and Son of Bridgend was identified as the source of the infection. Mr Tudor was subsequently jailed for one year.

In his report, Professor Pennington was extremely critical of the actions of William Tudor and Son. He found serious failures of food safety regulations at the butcher’s premises. He also found that Mr Tudor had “mislead and lied to” environmental health inspectors with regard to hygiene matters.

However, Professor Pennington was also critical of the local authority for failing to adequately monitor and assess the butcher’s management of food safety issues and the “seriously flawed” process by which meat supply contracts were awarded to the firm. Professor Pennington was also critical of the Meat Hygiene Service for allowing JE Tudor and Sons abattoir, which supplied meat to William Tudor and Son, to continue functioning in breach of legislative requirements.

Overall, Professor Pennington stated that he considered that the requirements for food hygiene in place at the time of the outbreak should have been sufficient to prevent it. He made 24 recommendations on actions that he considered needed to be taken to prevent a similar outbreak happening again.

HUSH urge the Welsh Assembly take the necessary action to ensure that all of Professor Pennington’s recommendations are implemented in full as swiftly as possible.

For over a decade HUSH have met with various Government Departments and repeatedly warned them that unless action was taken to tackle the problems posed by E.coli O157 there would be a repeat of the 1996 outbreak in Wishaw, Central Scotland in which 20 people died and some 500 people were affected. At these meetings, HUSH pointed to the failures of successive Governments to implement the recommendations of their own experts, including recommendations previously made by Professor Pennington himself. All too often, HUSH’s concerns were met with what appeared to be complacent indifference. Sadly, the South Wales outbreak in 2005 confirmed these fears.

Steve Nash, co-founder member of HUSH commented:

“For far too long the Government’s policy towards the risks posed by E.coli O157 appears to have been to do as little as possible and simply hope for the best. Sadly, it takes an outbreak such as has occurred in South Wales to concentrate minds on the problems posed by the bacterium. The tragic events of this latest outbreak must galvanise Government, throughout the UK, to take the necessary steps to properly tackle the problems posed by E.coli O157. As Professor Pennington himself says in his report: “We owe it to the memory of Mason Jones to learn the lessons from this outbreak and to remember them””

Leigh Day & Co have acted for members of HUSH in compensation claims relating to injuries suffered as a result of E. coli O157 infection. Leigh Day & Co have also acted for HUSH in relation to their ongoing campaign to strengthen food safety standards and regularly attended meetings with or on behalf of HUSH. Recent work includes challenging proposals to relax the Government guidance on the safe cooking time and temperature of burgers and highlighting the failure of food producers to adequately label unpasteurised foods or identify the risks posed by these foods.

For further information, please contact Sean Humber on 020 7650 1263.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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