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'It was heartbreaking': Groom speaks out after wedding guests struck by food poisoning

By Dayna Farrington | Staffordshire | Health | Published:

A groom has spoken of the "heartbreaking" moment he had to cancel his honeymoon – after he and more than 50 wedding guests were struck down with food poisoning from an undercooked hog roast at his Staffordshire wedding.

Phil and Vikki Kemp

Phil Kemp, from Burntwood, said a lot of memories of what should have been "the happiest day of mine and Vikki's lives are spoilt by what happened".

The couple were forced to cancel their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, after their wedding on October 20, 2017 – due to Phil being too sick to fly.

He had started to feel unwell the day after their wedding, but his symptoms worsened on October 22.

It comes after specialist wedding event caterer, Galloping Gourmet (Coulsdon) Ltd), were ordered to pay more than £250,000 after 58 people suffered food poisoning after eating their food at the wedding reception at the former Packington Moor, in Staffordshire.

Phil, 37, said: "The wedding had been a really fantastic day and everyone had enjoyed it so much, but I couldn’t believe it when I started to feel unwell.

"It got to the point where I had to go to a local walk-in centre and after tests I was told I had salmonella – I just couldn’t believe it.

“My illness lasted around 10 days all in all, but the symptoms were so bad that we had no option but to cancel our honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.

"I was totally devastated and we never got any money back from the tour operator or insurer in relation to it.

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“We did go away eventually, but this was obviously an extra cost on top of everything we had already paid. It was heartbreaking.”

Vikki and Phil Kemp on their wedding day in October 2017

Phil, an IT operations technician, instructed specialist public health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate how he fell ill. The company also represented more than 20 other people who fell ill from the wedding.

Cannock Magistrates' Court on Friday heard that following an extensive investigation by Lichfield District Council's food safety team, the cause of the food poisoning outbreak was identified as salmonella typhimurium – originating from an undercooked hog roast served at the evening wedding reception.

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The court was told that 52 wedding guests, together with the groom, two people who had not been at the wedding but who ate food served at the event, and three members of staff fell ill shortly after the wedding. Symptoms included nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue, and three people needed to seek hospital attention.

Mr Kemp said: "News of the prosecution is very welcome and I hope that it is an outcome that caterers across the country pay attention to and learn from.

"No one should have to go through what we have, especially in relation to their wedding day – it is just not acceptable.

“Sadly a lot of the memories about what should have been the happiest day of mine and Vikki’s lives are spoilt by what happened.

“Nothing will change what has happened, but we now just hope these issues will never happen again.”

Vikki and Phil Kemp on their wedding day in October 2017

The Galloping Gourmet (Coulsdon) Ltd pleaded guilty to two food safety breaches, which included placing unfit food on the market and failing to follow their own food safety procedures.

The company has since apologised for the "distress and discomfort" caused by the incident. They added that have made significant investment in technology to improve procedures and minimise human error.

A district judge ordered the company to pay a penalty of £200,000, court costs of £49,936 and a £170 surcharge.

A spokesman for Galloping Gourmet (Coulsdon) Ltd said: "We can’t express how sorry we are for the distress and discomfort this incident caused.

“Food safety is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. Our priority is to serve safe, tasty and well-presented food and drink to our customers, but on this isolated occasion, our food safety procedures were not followed correctly.

“We have investigated the incident thoroughly and made a significant investment in technology to improve our procedures and minimise the possibility for individual human error.

“Since we started out in 1990, we have served well over a million people and we’ve never had a problem like this before. However, we have accepted full responsibility and we are confident that the changes we’ve made will help ensure that this never happens again.”

Dayna Farrington

By Dayna Farrington
Senior reporter based at Wolverhampton

Reporter for the Express & Star based at Wolverhampton.

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