The Golden Ball restaurant in Lower Assendon has been fined over £4,000 and ordered to pay significant costs after admitting serving undercooked calves’ liver in 2015.
On Thursday 11 May representatives for Stephen Luscombe, director of Luscombes Limited, which operates as Luscombes at The Golden Ball, appeared at Oxford Magistrates court and entered a guilty plea for two food safety charges.
Mr Luscombe admitted serving food on the premises that was unsafe as it had been inadequately cooked, and failing to implement and maintain legally required food safety procedures, including those for the safe cooking of high risk foods.
Magistrates heard how, on 10 September 2015, South Oxfordshire District Council was asked to investigate after a member of the public was confirmed to have Campylobacter food poisoning.
The individual had eaten at Luscombes at The Golden Ball two weeks earlier. A fellow diner also had food poisoning, while several others had experienced symptoms.
Environmental Health Officers carried out an immediate unannounced inspection and found that the diners had been offered a set menu including calves’ liver for the main course.
Liver is a well-publicised potential source of campylobacter food poisoning, however the restaurant had no written protocol to ensure that high risk items were cooked in accordance with Food Standards Agency recommendations. It had also failed to complete required monitoring records for almost three months – this meant Luscombes was failing to meet its legal requirements for food safety.
In sentencing, the Deputy District Judge took the defendant’s early guilty plea into account. As a result, Mr Luscombe received a substantially reduced fine of £4,434, but he was also ordered to pay £5,284 costs and a victim surcharge of £120.
After the unannounced inspection, the restaurant received a Food Hygiene Rating of one. However, following significant work to improve its food safety operations and staff training, Luscombes at The Golden Ball has since been re-inspected and now has a Food Hygiene Rating of five.
Diane Moore, Food and Safety Manager at South Oxfordshire District Council said: “This case demonstrates how important it is for businesses to follow food hygiene rules and make sure food is safe to eat.
“Liver is a well-publicised potential source of campylobacter food poisoning, which in some cases can be fatal. It is essential that high risk products like this are thoroughly cooked. In this case, the liver had been cooked to too low a temperature with no regard given to very clear warnings from the Food Standards Agency.
“We take food safety very seriously and while we’ll always work with food businesses to secure good standards, whenever there are serious breaches of food hygiene rules then legal action will always be considered.”
The Herald have asked Luscombes for a statement, as yet we haven’t received a reply.