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to accept money back from caterer who gave all my guests food poisoning?

(30 Posts)
Kitsilano Wed 20-Aug-08 20:33:16

At my DDs naming ceremony on Sunday we had a catered BBQ and cake and all but 4 of the guests have succumbed to salmonella (from the cake). Guests included grandparents, parents of v young babies and one pregnant woman. All those workng have had to take time off work. Caterer is horrified and apologetic and has offered our money back (initially suggested half...but that was before it was clear exactly what had happened) which I have accepted.

For some reason I feel guilty about this as I know it was an accident on her part but nor do I feel I should have to pay for what has turned into a nightmare and potentially could have had even more awful consequences.

Am I being silly?

RubyRioja Wed 20-Aug-08 20:34:12

take it and donate to charity if you feel very bad - or some treats for your poor guests

thisisyesterday Wed 20-Aug-08 20:35:14

no, you are not being silly. caterers shouldn';t have "accidents" how on earth do you give people salmonella via a cake?????

Aitch Wed 20-Aug-08 20:36:23

god, no. you'll need the money to pay for all the apologetic notes you'll be sending.

Kitsilano Wed 20-Aug-08 20:37:05

It wasn't cooked for very long as it was a mousse type cake so eggs must not have been cooked

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 20:37:29

you poor thing. You are not being silly nor unreasonable, salmonella can kill.

However, if the food was served on Sunday I don't think it's possible for you to know for sure on Wednesday that it was caused by the cake. It takes lots of tests from environmental health to ascertain what causes salmonella.

Have the caterers said it was the cake? If they have, and they have offered you all your money back then they sound terribly guilty and dangerous. As though they have something to hide.

I think you should take the money but definately report it. Or are they offering you the money on the condition that they don't report it?

Someone could die next time.

bran Wed 20-Aug-08 20:37:48

I think it's only fair that she should refund the money, afterall you would never have used her if you had thought there was even the slightest chance of poisoning your guests. I would be nice to send something to your guests with the money, a small box of chocs or a bottle of wine or something.

Is salmonella a notifiable condition?

lulumama Wed 20-Aug-08 20:38:04

i would take the money back!!

salmonella is really serious especially for babies and the elderly

the least they can do really.

hope everyone recovers

spicemonster Wed 20-Aug-08 20:38:37

God no, take the money. My sister had a friend who lost her baby when she got salmonella at a wedding. He's bloody lucky you're not suing the arse off him.

Why don't you put it into an account for your DD?

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 20:38:52

Do you have a web link for us?

Kitsilano Wed 20-Aug-08 20:41:47

The caterer told us it was salmonella - some of the staff ate cake made from the same mixture on Monday and became ill. She has already notified environmental health and they have advised that it must be salmonella.

She isn't being dodgy or trying to hide it.

We will definitely be sending the guests something

Kitsilano Wed 20-Aug-08 20:45:46

That's terrible spicemonster. I am very worried about the pregnant friend.

merryberry Wed 20-Aug-08 20:51:44

back in the day when i worked public health jobs, it was very common to see salm outbreaks from cakes/bakeries. in fact, i took a paper for my Msc which included a question about lemon puffs and salmonella. they use eggs stored in large bottles like milk ones to look at often. the eggs are frequently from the continent, not neccessarily tested to lion standard frequcny/lab quality the bug. with this sort of background knowledge, plus descriptions of the illnesses and a quick epidemiological study of who ate what, you can pretty much conclde what the bug was and what is was in, even before any lab results are back. assuming the caterers kept samples back, as the best/biggest do

nametaken Wed 20-Aug-08 20:52:37

Have you sent poo samples off then and had the results back. DH worked in food industry for 25 years at a senior level and he says that's how salmonella is diagnosed, though culturing poo samples.

The caterer isn't qualified to tell you you have salmonella, that a doctor's job.

WideWebWitch Wed 20-Aug-08 20:56:09

You should accept the money but sometimes public health want to get involved when it's salmonella. So it's good that she's notified environmental health (do you believe her?)

Fwiw I had it (badly - DAYS and DAYS of not leaving the loo) when I was six months pregnant with dd and she is fine but it was VERY unpleasant. Environmental health may well want to check the caterer as their practices may have caused it.

Poor you and poor guests.

Dropdeadfred Wed 20-Aug-08 20:58:57

I would defintely take it if you are passing it onto your guests...

spicemonster Wed 20-Aug-08 21:00:21

Oh god I'm sorry, I didn't mean to alarm you. Didn't read your OP properly and didn't realise it had literally just happened blush

mistypeaks Wed 20-Aug-08 21:02:38

If she has given you this information re: her staff and reporting it to environemtal health off her own back she is being very good. So don't flame her or her business. You should however accept the money back. As has already been suggested use the money to buy little pressies for those affected.

MmeLindt Wed 20-Aug-08 21:08:44

Absolutely agree with everyone else. Any caterer knows of the dangers of salmonella and how to avoid it. Using raw eggs in a cake is a danger and she should have ensured that the cake was cooked long enough.

DS had salmonella when he was 4 months old and was pretty ill for a few days. We were lucky that he did not have to be hospitilised, we realised quickly that there was something seriously wrong and he was put on antibiotics.

Environmental health sent a woman to our house to try to find out where he got it and advise on treatment and precautions. It took months before he was testing negative and if he had been in nursery then they would not have been able to take him during that time.

Kitsilano Wed 20-Aug-08 21:11:47

She has done absolutely all she can in the circumstances and I have no intention of flaming her or her business. I do believe her.

My pregnant friend provided a stool sample today so I expect that will provide the final confirmation but I think it was the environmental health officer that told her it must be salmonella.

TheCrackFox Wed 20-Aug-08 22:35:25

TBH I am surprised that she has already suggested giving money back. I used to be a GM of a hotel ( luckily we never had a food poisoning outbreak) but there is no way I would have accepted liability until it had been officially proved where the outbreak came from. Everyone who suspected they were poisoned would have had to provide a stool sample for their doctor to send of for analysis. Harsh but true.

Kitsilano Thu 21-Aug-08 08:26:13

How could anyone think it was anything but food poisoning?

31 people attented an event, 27 became ill withing 48 hours after all eating the same food as did the chef at the event. (So far it could just possibly have been a virus)

BUT The next day several members of her staff ate cake made from the same mix and became ill too - they had had no other contact with the event.

I think with this circumstantial evidence and one stool sample you would have found yourself in a weak legal position had you attempted to deny liability for an outbreak. You would also have legally been obliged to conatct environmental health in the case of a suspected food poisoning outbreak. To me your attitude smacks of trying to get away with something when you could have put numerous people in danger and makes me quite cross given what has just happened to me and my famil and friends.

Please do tell me what hotel you worked for and I will make sure I never visit it!

Freckle Thu 21-Aug-08 08:33:21

If you do accept the money, ensure you make it clear that this does not constitute full and final restitution for the illness. Some of your guests may want compensation and accepting money from the caterer may be deemed to have already received that.

Make it clear that accepting back the cost of the event does not preclude any further claims.

wingandprayer Thu 21-Aug-08 08:56:04

Agree with Freckle. If liability is proved conclusively, caterer will also be liable for loss of earnings and any other expenses incurred by your guests as a result of illness. Her insurance should cover it.

SueW Thu 21-Aug-08 09:01:34

Agree with Freckle

Although there may a degree of certainty of the source, the consequences are yet to be fully known.

I had salmonella when I was 21 and had to take two weeks off work, ended up in hospital. Another guest at the same event had a far worse experience - drips, etc and longer in hospital. I was covered by my employer's sick pay but if self-employed people miss work then they may be able to claim lost earnings.

You should never admit liability for anything which may be covered by insurance anyway and the caterer should be insured for this.

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