A CATERER has hit out at Sunderland Council’s decision to hire a food contractor from outside the city triggering a suspected outbreak of food poisoning at a civic buffet.
Last week 18 members of staff at the authority fell ill with diarrhoea and vomiting after they all had attended the same event.
A caterer from outside Sunderland had been employed to provide food for the two-day conference, conflicting with past council campaigns encouraging people to “buy local”.
The Health Protection Agency is now investigating whether the buffet provided was the source of the outbreak.
But one Sunderland deli has said the council should have given priority to local businesses, especially when times are tough.
Adam Dodsworth, 41, who runs Roll With It cafe, Monkwearmouth, said: “I’m a Sunderland-based company and I was shocked that the council were using a caterers outside of Sunderland.
“I think it’s an absolute disgrace when you think of the rates we pay and they don’t even use us. Every time I want something doing I always think locally and I think it’s comical that they haven’t.
“We’re all struggling to make ends meet and they should be contracting local people to use as business.”
Mr Dodsworth, who has been in charge of the cafe for two years, said that a contract to provide things like buffets can make a big difference to a business.
The decision also appears to conflict with the council’s Buy Sunderland First campaign.
Ron Odunaiya, Sunderland City Council’s director of city services, said: “Sunderland City Council does not have an internal hospitality catering service provision, so will occasionally have to use an outside contractor.
“The city council does endeavour to support local businesses and regularly uses a number of Sunderland-based companies to provide services. Sometimes this is not always possible either due to availability, cost or the organisational demands of a specific event.
“The Buy Sunderland First system is the system used within the council to obtain quotes for external contracts between the value of £5,000 and £75,000 It was not used on this occasion to procure caterers as the value of the procurement did not exceed the financial threshold of £5,000.”