Peanut in a curry costs restaurant business over £4,600



Restaurant business Asmara Indian Cuisine Limited which was trading as Asmara of Freehold Street, Blyth in 2017, has been fined over £4,600 for selling a meal which contained traces of peanuts, even though the buyer specifically asked for one without.

This latest prosecution follows a sampling survey carried out by Northumberland Trading Standards last summer of Indian takeaways in the county to see if nuts were included in the meals when the buyer specifically asked for them not to be used.

Asmara Indian Cuisine Limited was fined £3000 under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 as the food was deemed to be unsafe to those persons who are allergic to peanuts.  There was an additional fine of £500 under the Food Safety Act 1990 for selling food not of the substance demanded. The company was also ordered to pay £250 legal costs, £743.50 investigation costs and £170 victim surcharge, making a total of £4663.50.

On July 14, 2017 a Trading Standards officer visited Asmara and ordered a chicken korma and plain pilau rice stating that she had an allergy and asked for the meal to be made without peanuts.

The order was taken by a female member of staff and a man now known as Abdul Karim intervened when the request was made, confirming that the dish would be made without peanuts.  Checks were also made with the kitchen and a note was made on the order regarding the allergy.

Once the meal was handed over and paid for, the officer advised that the meal would be sampled. Pictures of ingredients were also taken in the kitchen of ingredients identified as being used in the chicken korma.

The meal was sent to the Public Analyst who found it actually contained 26mg/kg of peanut, rendering the food unsafe to consumers who are allergic to them.

Mr Karim, the manager of the business who was tasked with the sourcing of materials and ingredients could not explain the presence of peanut.

After the case, Coun John Riddle, Northumberland County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Housing and Public Protection, said: “We welcome this strong sentence from the courts which should serve as a warning to other establishments that flout food safety laws.
“With around two million people living in the UK with a food allergy and around ten people in the UK dying from reactions to food every year due to undeclared allergenic ingredients or poor food preparation practices, this is an issue that every takeaway, restaurant and food supplier in the county has to make a top priority.”

Philip Soderquest, Head of Housing and Public Protection, said:
“This fine sends a strong message to the trade that the courts will take these issues very seriously. We are happy to advise business owners if they have any concerns at all. We would rather provide advice and support to businesses rather than prosecute, but we will do so where the circumstances support it.”

Nut and peanut allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis may begin with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but then quickly worsen, leading someone to have trouble breathing, feel lightheaded, or to pass out. If it is not treated quickly, anaphylaxis can be life threatening.

Any business which produces and, or retails food is advised to make themselves aware of the risks associated with allergens, of which there are 14. Guidance on  allergens and allergen controls can be found on the Food Standards Agency website at www.food.gov.uk or contact Northumberland Trading Standards on  01670 623870.

Customers who have bought food that they are concerned about should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.
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