Deception alleged in Listeria case

Last updated 08:04 18/07/2014

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The factory manager and a company director implicated in a deadly outbreak of listeriosis are accused of trying to deceive the Ministry for Primary Industries over laboratory reports on suspect meat.

In the Napier District Court yesterday, lawyers entered not guilty pleas for Napier company Bay Cuisine, its director Garth Wise, and factory manager Christopher Mackie.

Wise, 53, faces four charges, Mackie, 41, six, and the company 153 charges.

The three parties will face a judge-alone trial in the Hastings District Court after May.

One of the charges the men face carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

The outbreak, which occurred in mid-2012, claimed the life of 68-year-old Patricia Hutchinson on June 9 that year, and contributed to the death of an 81-year-old woman on July 9. Two other people were infected.

Listeria was found in pre-packaged ready-to-eat meats that had been supplied to Hawke's Bay Hospital. Listeria was also found at the Bay Cuisine factory. The company was the sole supplier of pre-packaged meats to the hospital.

Hawke's Bay DHB informed the ministry of the outbreak on July 6. Ten days later, Bay Cuisine notified the ministry of a suspected listeria infection and issued a voluntary recall of some products.

The ministry alleges that on July 11 and July 13, Mackie and Wise sent a laboratory report and a spreadsheet to a ministry employee with information omitted with the intent to deceive in order to avoid material detriment.

It is also alleged that, between July 5 and July 11, Mackie failed to notify the risk management programme verifying agency "without necessary delay" of a significant concern about the fitness of sliced corned silverside on June 18, when he knew the failure to do so increased the likelihood of an existing risk to human health.

It is alleged Wise offended in the same manner between June 24 and July 1 in relation to small round ham on June 18.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of two years' jail and a fine of $75,000.

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- The Dominion Post

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