23rd July 2021

Restaurant fined over allergens

A restaurant has been prosecuted for selling a dish containing peanuts to a consumer who had notified them of an allergy.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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The takeaway and restaurant sector that they really do need to take allergens seriously, and be realistic about what they can offer their customers

An Indian restaurant in Derby has been fined for selling a meal containing peanuts to a consumer who had specifically declared a peanut allergy.

After eating a takeaway meal from the Masala restaurant in July 2020, the consumer suffered a severe allergic reaction and had to use her EpiPen. She was then rushed to hospital by ambulance.

Derby City Council Trading Standards investigated the case when the victim’s mother made a complaint.

“The first thing we did was to take samples of the food itself, then replicated what the consumer had ordered,” said Owen Rees, Principal Trading Standards Officer at Derby City Council. “We tried to repeat what the consumer had done as exactly as we could from what she told us. The food was then sent off for analysis, and it was shown to contain peanuts.

“When we collected the order we also carried out an inspection of the premises. We looked at the restaurant’s processes and ingredients in the kitchen, and assessed the level of knowledge they had about allergen management. And then we gave them advice to prevent it happening again.”

At Derby Magistrates Court on July 12, New Masala Derby Ltd pleaded guilty to supplying food which was unsafe because it contained an allergen, contrary to the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013. Director Abdul Shahid also pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs. Shahid was fined £320, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £34.

“We would like to get the message to the takeaway and restaurant sector that they really do need to take allergens seriously, and be realistic about what they can offer their customers,” said Rees.

“A typical takeaway restaurant can have a very small kitchen and the chances of cross-contamination alone are high in those environments. They also get ingredients from different suppliers, and the formulas of those ingredients may change.

“They need to take the provision of information to consumers seriously; although the likelihood of somebody becoming very ill is perhaps low, the impact can be very high and somebody could die. That could cost them their business as well as potentially their freedom. It’s not a risk worth taking.”

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