Local health inspectors were called to the Sondes Arms, believed to be one of Charles Dickens’ former haunts, in Rockingham after customers tested positive for Norovirus in November, according to local paper the Northamptonshire Telegraph.
Two guests at an event hosted by the pub had the bug after eating there, but it could not be determined where they contracted the illness and it was therefore not attributed to the site.
Samples taken from customers who attended another event two days before were also taken, but came back negative.
‘Actions of its staff’
Of the samples taken by the authorities, a Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said: “Norovirus can be spread in the air and by touching contaminated surfaces, as well as by eating contaminated food, so it is not possible to directly attribute this illness to the establishment or actions of its staff.
“PHE has been informed that the council’s environmental team worked closely with the pub in December to ensure its hygiene standards and protocols were of a good standard.”
Officials had visited the site less than two weeks before complaints were made and gave the Sondes Arms a zero Scores on the Doors rating, after discovering a raft of hygiene issues.
During the inspection, the local authority found an electronic fly killer heavily encrusted with dead flies and no hot water to a hand basin. E.coli bacteria was found in a sample taken from 8 November.
A meat knife had also been left on a breadboard, along with cleaning materials left next to other chopping boards, making the likelihood of cross-contamination possible.
However, many of the grievances recorded by environmental health were rectified while they were at the pub, according to owner Sue Haynes.
‘Raised several points’
She told the local newspaper: “Environmental health officers visited on 16 November for an annual routine check and raised several points with us.”
Urgent issues, such as the presence of E.coli, were dealt with while the officers were there, she added.
“All other issues, including training and structural were adhered to, even before the environmental officers had returned.”
On their return, environmental health officers carried out another inspection and agreed all issues had been worked on and completed, leaving Haynes to believe she would achieve a five-star rating after a re-inspection next month.