Brasserie Blanc, Raymond Blanc's high street French restaurant chain, has been banned from serving lamb's liver after two customers got food poisoning.
The chain has been ordered to take the dish off the menu across its restaurants, after an environmental health order (EHO) from Westminster council against its flagship site in London's Covent Garden where the two diners were taken ill after eating liver that had been undercooked.
"Brasserie Bar Co has not contested the EHO enforcement and will no longer serve liver in any of its restaurants, " a spokeswoman for the group confirmed to the Guardian. "In order to serve liver and comply with Westminster council, it would need to be overcooked to such an extent that our customers just won't eat it."
Westminster magistrates court was told that chefs at Brasserie Blanc had been ignoring food safety rules that state lamb's liver must be cooked at 70°C for at least two minutes. Laura Mackinnon, prosecuting, said the restaurant had received a warning from council officials in back in July to cook its lamb's liver more thoroughly after a woman fell ill from eating the undercooked meat on 22 June.
However, the court heard that Brasserie Blanc chefs ignored the warning and continued to serve the liver pink, which led to another customer falling ill from eating the same dish on 9 August.
"On 9 August, the [environmental health] officer Kate Eastland went to Blanc Brasserie to follow up two complaints for food poisoning that had been linked to the specific Blanc Brasserie in Covent Garden. Both had suffered from campylobacter food poisoning. They had both eaten pink liver," Mackinnon said.
"She went with a temperature probe and the liver was cooked in front of her by chefs in the normal method used by the restaurant. The liver was not being cooked to hold at that temperature for two minutes. Because of that a prohibition notice was served that said that specific product was not to be served. It presented an imminent risk of injury to health because of the process of cooking."
District judge Michael Snow, upheld the prohibition order saying he was "quite satisfied in this case there was an imminent risk to public health". He ordered Brasserie Bar Co to pay £3,103 costs.
"I hope that the message goes out to anybody involved in this area that if they fail to comply in their responsibilities and come before me for a criminal type prosecution they must expect a punishment to deter them and deter others," the judge said.
James Armitage, Westminster City Council's Food Health and Safety Manager, said: " After receiving two separate complaints of food poisoning which may have originated from eating at a Covent Garden restaurant, our officers investigated and issued a notice which prevented the restaurant from serving undercooked lambs' liver.
"Today's court decision to uphold the notice is welcome as the serving of undercooked meat, without suitable controls in place, is a public health risk.
"Health inspectors have agreed with the restaurant the safety measures that need to be in place for the restaurant to be allowed to safely put the dish back on its menu.
"With over 5,000 food establishments in Westminster, it is important that our team remains vigilant during routine inspections in order to prevent cases such as these from arising."