Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Monday, 12 December 2005

E.coli firm reopens for business

John Tudor and Son, Bridgend
The Bridgend firm says no trace of E.coli has ever been found there

A meat supplier at the centre of an investigation into the south Wales E.coli outbreak has reopened.

John Tudor and Son of Bridgend closed in September after Bridgend Council issued an emergency prohibition order.

The order was lifted last month, and the firm has been allowed to trade after a fresh inspection.

But the firm has lost contracts to supply schools and old people's homes in four local authorities in south Wales, it has emerged.

Investigations are continuing into the source of the E.coli outbreak, which affected more than 170 people and killed a boy.

Most of those hit by the E.coli O157 food poisoning were children in more than 40 south Wales valleys schools.

One, Mason Jones, five, from Deri near Bargoed, died.

Public health officials found the initial source of the poisoning to be school dinners, although cases were later spread by person-to-person contact.

'No longer a risk'

The Bridgend firm was closed soon after the outbreak began in September, and the council said it issued certificates last Friday allowing it to reopen.

In a statement, the local authority said it was "satisfied that there is no longer a risk to health in relation to emergency prohibition notices served on the firm on 19 and 20 September 2005".

The council will carry out more inspections "to ensure continual compliance with relevant legislation in accordance with the council's duty under the Food Safety Act 1990".

An official inquiry by the Welsh Assembly Government and chaired by food expert Professor Hugh Pennington is under way.

A spokeswoman for William Tudor, of John Tudor and Son, said: "He's now trying to rebuild his business. It's been a particularly difficult affair which for many people has been devastating and as of today we can begin to rebuild the business.

Agreement terminated

"Mr Tudor welcomes the Pennington enquiry and hopes lessons will be learnt from the findings."

However, on Monday, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said it had given John Tudor and Son notice of termination of the contract to supply meat to schools in Bridgend, Merthyr, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The council said it would not be using the firm as a supplier in view of the termination of the agreement. The contract for old people's homes and community care day centres was also terminated, it said.

A Bridgend spokesman said the council had dropped the firm during the outbreak and would keep its replacement supplier.

The firm has previously said no reported traces of the E.coli bacterium have been found on its premises.

The order stopping the firm from trading was made after the first cases emerged. Police later sealed off its premises and launched a criminal investigation into the outbreak.

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