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23 September 2015, 16:11 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
Bosses at a takeaway in Nottingham have pleaded guilty after 142 customers got a rare type of e-coli after eating at Khyber Pass in Hyson Green.
In one case, a 13-year-old girl spent four nights in hospital with a consultant saying the infection could have been deadly if it was not treated.
Amjad Bhatti and Mohammed Basit, owners of the Khyber Pass, in Gregory Boulevard, pleaded guilty to seven food hygiene offences and were sentenced on Wednesday.
Prosecuting, Bernard Thorogood said the strain of e.coli was only the second recorded case in Europe.
He said: "Its only known reservoir is the human gut.
"You realise the way it was transmitted was by use of incorrect hand washing after using the lavatory to defecate.
"A cough can't do it, a handshake could if it's an infected hand which means it was not washed after using the lavatory.''
He added that nine of the 12 members of staff who handle food at the takeaway were found to have traces of the bacteria, and one of the defendant's daughters fell ill.
Mitigating, Robert Egbuna said lessons had been learnt and improvements made at the takeaway.
He said: "It is not just a case of adding hand basins. There have been significant changes that have come about from the real shock of what has happened.''
Bhatti and Basit were both given four months prison suspended for a year, as well as being ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work each.
His Honour Judge Jeremy Lea also said each of the victims should be paid #200 compensation by the defendants as well as paying costs of #25,752.36.
He said: "If you make money by supplying cooked food to members of the public, you owe a real duty of care to ensure that people will not be made unwell by your disregard for food safety and hygiene regulations. This is not simply red tape that you have failed to comply with.''
The judge said he was "not blind to the consequences'' which included adding burdens to the NHS, employers who had to cover for sick employees and parents and children who fell ill.
"One or two individuals indicate they have never felt so ill and thought they were going to die,'' he said.
"Some of them were made so unwell they had to go to hospital and one 13-year-old was so unwell the medical evidence was clear that notwithstanding medical treatment, she may well have died.''