Ex-PNE chief in ox tongue listeria hell

Maurice Lindsay
Maurice Lindsay
Share this article
Have your say

Former Preston North End chairman Maurice Lindsay today told how he was forced to give up his position with the club and the Football Association after eating ox tongue found to contain potentially deadly bacteria.

Supermarket Booths has been fined £27,500 by a court after selling the ox tongue which was eaten by the former North End chief and found to be infected with listeria.

Maurice Lindsay’s housekeeper bought the tongue from Booths in Haven Road, Lytham. The poisoning was traced back to the tongue bought at Booths’ deli counter and supplied to the chain by Wirral Foods, from East Lancashire.

Mr Lindsay, 70, who lives in Lytham, said: “I have been so ill I had to give up my role at North End and with the FA. In hospital I was injected every four hours for 20 days. My body was starting the reject the needles in the end.

“I am taking a civil action against Booths on top of this criminal case. I have never been so ill in my life. The doctors told me it was touch and go at first. Until the listeria was identified I was at death’s door for three days.

“I will never touch tongue again in my life. It was my house keeper who bought it to put in my sandwich for tea. If I had done the shopping I would never have bought tongue.

“Two years down the line I am still not well.”

Booths admitted 10 hygiene, labelling and sell-by date offences at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The court heard the Lytham store was investigated by Fylde Council after Mr Lindsay became ill in 2011.

The probe also found discrepancies in the sell by dates and labelling on other Polish and Italian meats as well as seafood.

Michael Lavery, prosecuting, said: “The firm said the normal policy was to keep wet fish and shell fish for three days, but if it looked alright give it another day.

“There is a failure to supervise systems and procedures and a failure to heed previous warnings.”

Mark Balysz, defending, said: “Booths sincerely regrets the illness caused to this gentleman.

“(Booths) deals with millions of customers and has had a very good track record in retail. It’s relationship with the manufacturers of the ox tongue has now been ended. Booths now realise that Wirrall Foods did not observe the required testing regime. It was that firm which broke the regulations and Booths feel badly let down.

“In respect of the other food shelf life regulations and local; managers no longer have discretion and the stores are no longer run in the way they were. The use by dates on food are now mandatory- without question.”

The supermarket was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £46,755 and a £15 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, Coun Tommy Threlfall, Fylde Council cabinet member for the environment and partnerships, said: “Booth’s is a highly regarded family firm. It makes a great contribution to the economic life of Fylde. It is very sad that they have been in court. They have already assured us, however, that they have learned from this episode and Fylde Council will help if we can.”

A Booths spokesman said: “Booths immediately ceased trading with Wirral Foods when we learnt of the problem. The authorities are satisfied with Booths response to the incident and have allowed the store to continue to trade throughout.”

No-one from Wirrall Foods was available for comment.