The owners of a restaurant which caused nearly 90 people to fall ill with a rare form of food poisoning had deliberately tried to obstruct an investigation into the outbreak, a court heard today.

Abdul Ghafoor, of Fagley Road, Fagley, and Mohammed Ayub, of Westlands Grove, Allerton, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of breaching food hygiene laws and an additional six counts of obstructing Bradford Council’s inquiry into the now defunct Saffron restaurant in Ilkley.

The charges related to serious breaches of food hygiene rules which led to an outbreak of a rare parasitic infection in late 2007.

Traces of the Giardia Lamblia parasite, usually associated with the Middle East and which causes gastro-intestinal illness, nausea and stomach cramps, were found in 87 people who had become ill after eating at the restaurant.

Magistrates decided they had insufficient powers to sentence Ghafoor and Ayub and committed them to be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on May 8.

After the case, Bradford Council’s environmental health manager, Angela Brindle, said: “It has been a very difficult case to investigate as the Giardia parasite is not normally associated with food-borne outbreaks of this nature and, in fact, we believe it is the first Giardia outbreak associated with a food business in this country.

“Looking into this case was made even more difficult by one of the proprietors not disclosing themselves as a bona fide owner of the restaurant until nine months into the investigation.

“This is why we also brought a case of obstruction against Ghafoor and Ayub as they caused considerable delay to the investigation.

“The restaurant staff were totally ill-prepared for the job.

“They had no food hygiene training and no experience of running a food business safely.

“Staff did not know how to wash their hands properly and even carried on working when they had diarrhoea.

“The key message we want to send out to other food businesses following this case is that staff must be trained and supervised to ensure they are carrying out hygiene practices correctly and food handlers must not work while suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.”

Infection can last for months
  • Giardia Lamblia is a parasite which came to light in the UK as an important cause of diarrhoea among those returning from abroad.
  • The condition caused is known as giardiasis and is a major cause of childhood diarrhoea in developing countries, Eastern Europe and across the United States.
  • People or animals carrying giardia in their intestines pass it out in their faeces.
  • The parasite is then spread through poor hygiene or contaminated soil, food or water.
  • Some people recover completely from giardiasis without specific treatment. For others, the infection persists for weeks or even months.