A former butcher in England was fined this week after his business was linked to a Listeria outbreak. Officials said it was one of the biggest environmental health investigations the authorities have ever had.
Robert Bowring of Bowring Butchers was prohibited from managing any food business during sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court. While he is not allowed to manage food processes and production, he will be able to undertake tasks such as deliveries.
The Mansfield District Council launched an investigation in April 2019 after being told by Public Health England East Midlands, now the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), that whole genome sequencing had linked two cases of listeriosis to Bowring. The suspected source was Bowring Butchers and potted beef.
The court was told about the death of Kathleen Ferguson who was admitted to hospital after becoming ill. Listeria was found in a blood sample, confirming listeriosis, although cause of death was recorded as heart disease. Analysis revealed that the bacteria in Ferguson’s blood was from the same source as those in samples taken in Bowring’s premises, where she was a regular customer. Two care homes had also been supplied with meat by Bowring.
Sentencing Judge Nigel Godsmark said although Ferguson died with, rather than of, listeriosis, the consequences could have been serious, particularly for vulnerable and elderly people in care homes.