The luxury four-red-AA star Tylney Hall hotel in Rotherwick, Hampshire, has apologised to customers affected by a food poisoning incident, which landed the property with fines and costs of more than £40,000.
Three people were struck down with the campylobacter form of food poisoning following a Christmas party at the 112-bedroom property owned by Elite Hotels, in December 2010, Aldershot Magistrates Court was told.
The hotel admitted five food hygiene charges, including selling cheese after its use-by date, twice placing unsafe chicken liver parfait on the market, and failing to ensure that food handlers were supervised, instructed and trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work.
Helen Riglia, prosecuting on behalf of Hart District Council, said the charges arose following the hotel's failure to ensure food was cooked at the proper temperature, its failure to keep adequate records and a lack of stock rotation and food delivery checks.
The council received complaints after 13 diners attending the party complained of nausea and flu-like symptoms followed by diarrhoea.
Andrew Kinnier, representing the hotel, said his client was a company with an impeccable food safety record who had vowed to ensure such occurrences never happen again.
Magistrates fined the hotel a total of £36,500. They also ordered it to pay the council's £4,039 costs and £15 towards a fund for the victims of crime.
Graeme Bateman, managing director of Elite Hotels, said that this was the first incident of its kind since Tylney Hall opened over 25 years ago. "We offer our sincerest apologies to the customers affected. We treat compliance with Food Hygiene Regulations extremely seriously and have a robust management system in place to ensure good practice and due diligence in achieving and maintaining the highest standards," he said.
"Whilst we deeply regret this incident, we do feel that as a long standing business with an impeccable and unblemished record, more could and should have been done by the local authority to support the hotel in respect of this incident which occurred over 12 months ago. The company's significant contribution to the local economy and community over the years and support of numerous local organisations and charities appear to have been overlooked."
"The investigation was extremely protracted with the local authority being highly critical but at no time were they willing to provide examples of best practice to help improve practices for the future."
By Janet Harmer
E-mail your comments to Janet Harmer here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.catererandhotelkeeper.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Catererandhotelkeeper.com jobs
Blogs on Catererandhotelkeeper.com
Catch up with more news and gossip on all Caterer's blogs
For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our E-newsletters