Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mother's plea over E.coli report

Mason Jones
Mason Jones, five, died after eating contaminated cooked meat

The mother of a boy who died in an E.coli outbreak in south Wales says the recommendations of a public inquiry should be implemented immediately.

Sharon Mills, whose five-year-old son Mason Jones died in the outbreak in 2005, also called for tougher sentences for food hygiene crimes.

Inquiry chair Prof Hugh Pennington said butcher William Tudor, who was later jailed, was to blame for the outbreak.

But he also criticised inspectors and made 24 recommendations in his report.

Mason, from Deri, Caerphilly county, was five when he died after contracting the bug's O157 strain in 2005.

Bridgend butcher Tudor was jailed for a year after admitting supplying contaminated meat to schools across south Wales in 2005.

Forty-four schools across the south Wales valleys were affected in the outbreak and 156 people were made ill.

It was the largest outbreak of its kind in Wales, the second biggest in the UK and the sixth largest worldwide.

Prof Pennington, a microbiologist who also investigated an E.coli outbreak in Lanarkshire in 1996, urged food producers to "get to grips" with food safety management and said inspectors from Bridgend council should have done better in assessing Tudor's business.

Garyn and Julie Price
Garyn Price still suffers the effects of the E.coli bug

He said more training was needed for inspectors and called for all local authorities in Wales to review their policies, procedures and systems over food safety in schools.

In an emotional statement made after the inquiry was published, Ms Mills said her son would still be alive if proper systems had been in place in 2005 to avoid cross-contamination in food processing.

She also said Tudor only served 12 weeks of his one year sentence and would be campaigning to increase sentences for food hygiene crimes.

'Thorough job'

"The report shows that butcher William Tudor was to blame for the outbreak but also that public authorities needed to do more to protect us all," she said.

"I believe the inspectors should be reprimanded.

"I wanted Professor Pennington to recommend changes in the procedures for food processing so as to make our children safe.

"I am very pleased that he has done such a thorough job and made recommendations that I believe need to be implemented immediately as this is the only way to ensure that public safety is protected.

"I miss Mason terribly. I would give anything to have him back. He was a great kid and he suffered greatly from E.coli. I want people to know how bad this bacteria is."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said the Welsh Assembly Government, which called the inquiry, would work with enforcement agencies to ensure the public's safety.

John Tudor & Son sign
John Tudor & Son of Bridgend closed after the outbreak

"The Welsh Assembly Government will expect that the recommendations are given proper consideration by relevant bodies and individuals, and will facilitate wider consideration at a UK or higher level where required," he said.

"Our aspiration is that the chances of a repeat of this kind of outbreak in the future will be minimised, even if the risk of an outbreak can never be wholly eliminated."

Andrew Jolley of Bridgend council said many of the changes recommended by Prof Pennington had already been put in place.

"The public can be assured that the authority will do everything it can to ensure food safety," said Mr Jolley.

"However we should not forget that William Tudor, deliberately misled and deceived our officers during the course of their inspections and showed a significant disregard for food safety," he said.

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