More than 140 people were infected with a rare strain of e.coli after eating at a takeaway in Nottingham as result of staff not washing their hands after using the toilet, a court has heard.
Amjad Bhatti and Mohammed Basit, owners of the Khyber Pass in Hyson Green, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to seven food hygiene offences after Nottingham Crown Court heard 142 customers suffered from nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting after eating at the venue last June.
In one case, a 13-year-old girl was told she could have died from the infection if it had not been treated during four days in hospital.
The court heard how the outbreak of the rare strain of e.coli was only the second case ever recorded in Europe. Prosecutor Bernard Thorogood said: "You realise the way it was transmitted was by use of incorrect hand washing after using the lavatory to defecate.
"A cough can't do it, a handshake could if it's an infected hand which means it was not washed after using the lavatory."
Nine of the 12 members of staff at Khyber Pass were found to be carrying traces of the bacteria on their hands, with one of the defendants' daughters also falling ill.
Bhatti and Basit were both given four-month prison sentences suspended for a year, made to do 250 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of more than £25,000. Each one of the victims exposed to the bacteria also received £200 compensation.
Judge Jeremy Lea told the pair: "If you make money by supplying cooked food to members of the public, you owe a real duty of care to ensure that people will not be made unwell by your disregard for food safety and hygiene regulations. This is not simply red tape that you have failed to comply with."
He added: "One or two individuals indicate they have never felt so ill and thought they were going to die. Some of them were made so unwell they had to go to hospital and one 13 year old was so unwell the medical evidence was clear that notwithstanding medical treatment, she may well have died."
One customer wrote a one-star review on Trip Advisor saying he said he became "very ill after eating a takeaway curry from here in May". He added: The restaurant was reported and fined for breaches to environmental health guidelines according to the local Evening Post newspaper. It has put me off eating Indian takeaways ever since. Not good, shocking."