Cramlington restaurant fined for food safety breaches
29 Oct 2020 ARCHIVED (over 3 months old) - view latest news
An Indian takeaway and its manager have been ordered to pay a fine between them of £1500, plus £1217 in costs for selling a curry containing traces of peanuts, even though the buyer specifically asked for one without.
It follows routine allergen sampling carried out by Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards Officers of takeaways in the county to see if nuts were included in the meals when the buyer specifically asked for them not to be used.
Hussain Ahmed, manager of Brockwell Tandoori, the trading name of Brockwell Spice, based in the Brockwell Centre, Cramlington, pleaded guilty to placing food on the market which was unsafe and considered injurious to the health of a person who has an allergy to peanuts.
In August 2019, a Trading Standards officer rang the restaurant and placed an order for a chicken korma and plain pilau rice. She clearly stated that she had a peanut allergy and asked for the meal to be made without peanuts. The order was taken by Hussain Ahmed, the manager who stated that the meal would be made without almonds and would be completely peanut free.
When the take-away meal was collected, traces of peanuts were found in it. The meal was sent to a Public Analyst who confirmed that the sample contained 15.1 mg of peanut – a level sufficient to produce an allergenic reaction to a susceptible person.
On the 5th December 2019, Hussain Ahmed attended an interview under caution and agreed to speak on behalf of the defendant company. He confirmed that he was tasked with the sourcing of materials and ingredients and also that there was no formal training, instructions or written procedures when it came to allergens. He did however expect the staff to take action when a customer asked for a specific meal and “use a clean pan and ensure that the ingredients that contain allergens are separated from other ingredients.” He accepted that the way the food was prepared could lead to cross contamination, that there were not adequate systems in place to deal with allergens and that the meal provided was unsafe and injurious to health.
On 26 October, South East Northumberland Magistrates fined the business £1000, plus £817 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge for breaching the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. The manager of the takeaway Mr Ahmed was also fined £500, £400 costs and £50 victim surcharge for the same offence.
Councillor John Riddle, Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Community Services said:
“No one wants to bring a business to court during these difficult times, however this is a serious matter. The restaurant was selling food with peanuts in, when specifically asked not to which could have resulted in tragic consequences.”
Nut and peanut allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis leading someone to have trouble breathing, feeling lightheaded, or to pass out and if not treated quickly it can be life threatening.
“We are happy to advise business owners if they have any concerns at all. We would much rather advise and support businesses than prosecute them. I hope this court sentence serves as a warning to other establishments which flout food safety laws. This is an issue that every takeaway, restaurant and food supplier has to make top priority.”
Any caterer with concerns about allergenic ingredients should visit the Food Standards Agency website at www.food.gov.uk or contact Trading Standards via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customers who have bought food that they are concerned about should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.