A 94-year-old woman and several children became ill after eating at the pub last year and informed Dudley Council of their food poisoning symptoms.
IP Carvery, which makes the food on behalf of the Park Lane Tavern, in Cradley, pleaded guilty to placing unsafe food on the market in a case brought by Dudley Council at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on 18 May.
A public apology was made to the court on behalf of IP Carvery's director. The court also heard the company had employed a food-safety expert to advise them, inspect their facilities and train staff.
The food business was fined £1,350 and ordered to pay costs of £2,483.55 to Dudley Council and a victim surcharge of £120.
The council said it is also understood that the company’s insurers had received compensation claims on behalf of affected customers.
At the the hearing, the court heard how the diners ate at the carvery in a two hour slot on Saturday 2 April last year and 20 customers were confirmed to have suffered from Clostridium Perfringens – a pathogenic bacterium that causes food poisoning.
Clostridium Perfringens can be caused by the inadequate cooling of large joints of meat, leading to the formation of toxic bacteria, which survives cooking and then grows in the meat while cooling. It can cause illness shortly after being reheated and consumed.
Two leftover samples of turkey taken home by customers were found to be contaminated with the bacteria.
Environmental Health officers also visited the pub and found inadequate storage temperatures of cooked joints, a lack of monitoring of cooling times and temperature of cooked meats and inadequate record keeping.
British Hospitality Association (BHA) food safety advisor Dr Lisa Ackerley advised that operators need to maintain high standards on food cooking and cooling in order to ensure food poisoning does not take place.
She said: “Clostridium perfringens is a spore-forming bacterium that can survive cooking, and if foods are not cooled quickly, it can germinate and multiply.
“If foods are then not reheated properly, poisons are released in the body which cause food poisoning. It is absolutely essential that if any business cooks food in advance they ensure they operate the highest standards including rapid cooling, storage below 5°C and thorough re-heating to above 75°C (82°C is required in Scotland).
“Details of safe practices may be found in the BHA’s Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice: Catering Guide.
Dudley Council head of environmental health Nick Powell outlined how seriously the council takes cases such as these because they put public health at risk.
He said: “Serious food safety errors were made in this case, which put the health of customers at risk and caused illness in 20 people, who fortunately recovered, but the outcome could have been far worse as young children and the elderly are often more severely affected by food poisoning.
“While we prefer to work with businesses to secure compliance with the law, we will not hesitate to take legal action against the minority of food businesses proprietors who fail to meet their legal responsibilities and put public health at risk as a result.”
At the time of going to press the Park Lane Tavern was not responding to calls from The Morning Advertiser. Efforts to track down IP Carvery are still ongoing.