CHELSFIELD: Court told of salmonella outbreak at Cannock House Day Nursery
10:13am Thursday 26th March 2009 in News
A COMPANY which admitted breaching health and safety law following an outbreak of salmonella poisoning at a nursery is to be sentenced at crown court.
Cannock House Day Nursery, Hawstead Lane, Chelsfield, was closed by Bromley Council in March 2007 after 147 people were affected, including 139 children.
Bromley magistrates heard yesterday (March 25) about the poor conditions at the nursery at the time of the outbreak.
The nursery was being run by Cannock House Day Nursery Limited and had 215 youngsters on its books.
Chairman of the bench Sarah Cahill said: “This was a serious breach and the potential consequences could have been disastrous.”
She said magistrates did not have sufficient powers to deal with the case. Sentencing will now take place at Croydon Crown Court on a date to be confirmed.
Although it is not known exactly how the outbreak spread, the court heard from the prosecution how salmonella was found on a chopping board and three mixing bowls in the kitchen at the premises.
One suggestion was raw eggs were mixed in bowls which were too large to be put into the dishwasher or sinks and therefore were not washed properly.
Prosecutor Rob Sowersby said the cleanliness of the kitchen was found to be poor and cleaning facilities were too small, being appropriate for a home rather than a business.
The court heard the rest of the nursery was found to be in poor repair and the carpets were old and dirty.
Mr Sowersby said there were insufficient procedures relating to washing hands, changing nappies and organising cleaning.
He said: “The nursery failed to provide soap and paper towels. There were rooms which did not have hot water at the tap.”
Mr Sowersby added there was no toilet paper in the toilets and that children were handed some when they had to go.
Staff and youngsters were not supposed to come to the nursery if they had diarrhoea in the last 24 hours, the court heard.
However, when the outbreak began this was not followed.
Mr Sowersby said: “Things had been allowed to get into a pretty bad state. This was a continuing dangerous state of affairs.”
He added staff at the nursery had made repeated requests for new equipment but a refusal to spend money had allowed things there to slide.
Cannock House Day Nursery Limited was taken to court for breaching its duty of care under the Health and Safety Act 1974.
The company pleaded guilty to two breaches of the act when the case was heard at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on February 11. The prosecution was brought by Bromley Council.
Since May last year the nursery has been operated by Child Base Limited, a company unconnected with the previous operator.