Melbourne’s Langham Hotel has hit back at reports that cockroaches and mice roamed kitchen areas before the recent salmonella outbreak that caused mayhem amongst guests.
“We categorically deny the presence of vermin … it is absolutely untrue,” a statement from the Langham read. “It is also completely untrue that the Langham has been fined, nor did it fail inspections.”
Victoria’s health department has confirmed that seventeen people have recently fallen ill after dining at the prestigious hotel, with seven hospitalised by the outbreak. One of those, a 29-year old woman who attended a high tea baby shower on July 12, gave birth five weeks prematurely while suffering from salmonella.
Lydia Buchtmann, a spokesperson for the Food Safety Information Council, told The Newsroom there were an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year.
“According to a recent ANU study, food poisoning cases are declining in Australia, except for salmonella which has increased 24 per cent over the last 10 years. Salmonella is linked to poorly cooked poultry or raw or minimally cooked eggs, and results in vomiting and diarrhoea. Like all food poisoning, it can be serious for pregnant women and their babies, small children and the elderly, as well as people with poor immune systems.”
The hotel will not disclose any personal information relating to any affected guests, but is investigating the incident.
“The Langham is currently working with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding an investigation of illness of some guests that visited the hotel’s Aria Bar & Lounge during the weekend of the 11 and 12 of July,” Tara Bishop, a spokesperson for the Langham told The Newsroom. “As the safety and well-being of the guests and colleagues are of the highest priority, the hotel has extensive protocols in place to ensure food safety.
“The hotel’s Quality and Risk Assessment Manager conducts daily food safety checks of equipment, personnel and processes involved in food preparation. Food is produced in traceable batches and frozen samples are systematically retained. Electronic temperature checks are carried out on food deliveries and each batch of food prepared. Detailed food preparation logs and samples have been provided to the Environmental Health Officer for further analysis.”
The Department of Health and Human Services says premises that breach the Food Act are often taken to court by local government, and many businesses have been fined substantial amounts by the courts. Closure is not uncommon if businesses breach regulations, but is only a final step if all other measures have failed. – Photo and report by Sarah Batt