Wednesday, August 19, 1998 Published at 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Sheriff criticises E. coli butcher
The shop was clean but not safe
Twenty-one people died in 1996 after eating contaminated meat supplied by a butcher's shop in Wishaw, Lanarkshire.
The report said the shopkeeper, John Barr, had been ignorant of food hygiene procedures and deceived food inspectors.
Sheriff Principal Graham Cox's report was based on a two-month inquiry that was held in Motherwell earlier this year.
The Sheriff said: "I have no doubt Mr John Barr liked a clean shop and maintained a clean shop.
The Sheriff said the butcher also paid only lip service to environmental health officers so that he could conceal the full extent of his business operations. In this way, he was able to avoid very tight food regulations set out in 1994.
The report said there was inadequate training of staff at Barr's shop in Caledonian Road, Wishaw, implicated in the outbreak. It identified five key failures:
The Sheriff accepted the environmental health officers (EHOs) did not get full details from Mr Barr, but even when they did, the authorities were slow to respond, he said.
However, the Sheriff suggested it may now be time for all cooked meats to be produced in dedicated licensed premises because of the scale of risks involved.
The professor said of the Sheriff's findings: "It comes as no great surprise that the Sheriff has come to the conclusions he has done given the conditions in Mr Barr's shop.
"It is equally of no surprise that EHOs have also come in for criticism."
Professor Pennington said food safety standards had improved since the outbreak, but practices had to be improved still further.
Mr Barr has already faced criminal proceedings. He was cleared by a court of recklessly supplying contaminated meat.
Mr Santoni, who has already settled about 60 cases relating to the outbreak, has another 60 still to settle
"Should liability continue to be denied, we will pursue proceedings against Barrs and possibly North Lanarkshire Council," he said.