Three years after he was nearly dispatched to that great kitchen in the sky after eating a bad oyster in the Caribbean, gourmet and food critic Michael Winner was hospitalised again - this time after gorging himself on steak tartare at home in London.

Winner, 75, collapsed with an e-coli infection and was taken to the casualty department at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital by ambulance.

Doctors spent four days getting the infection under control - with his wife of two months, Geraldine, bringing him specially prepared meals because he did not dare risk eating hospital food.

"For some reason I fancied steak tartare and I had it four days in a row - the steak was bought from the best butcher in town," says Winner.


All the same he admits it was a mistake to eat the dish, which is basically raw meat, because of his history of food poisoning and a weakened immune system.

"I was stupid," he tells me. "Geraldine was in Paris visiting her two sons when I began to feel very groggy last week. I was rushed to hospital and she flew straight back.

"I was in an ordinary NHS ward and they were quite marvellous - except for the hospital food, which you mustn't eat or you die."

Winner was released on Monday, but has been told to stick to a special diet - and ordered never again to touch steak tartare.

"They have banned me from eating red meat," says Winner. "And I've been given a list of what I can eat, which is cereal, fish, eggs, pasta, chicken, rice and potatoes."

His illness comes just three months after he underwent surgery for internal bleeding in the same hospital.

"That time I arrived by Rolls-Royce," he says.

"This time, I slummed it in an ambulance. I now say that if I'm not in intensive care once a month, I must be ill."


Winner had to be flown back to Britain from Barbados in Sir Philip Green's private jet after he suffered a serious bout of food poisoning in 2007.

He nearly lost his left leg after being infected by the vibrio vulnificus bacteria from an oyster.