Image demonstrating Peanuts in a curry costs restaurant business over £6,000 

Peanuts in a curry costs restaurant business over £6,000 

An Indian restaurant based in Newbiggin has been ordered to pay  over £6,000 for selling a meal which contained traces of peanuts, even though it was ordered as being peanut-free.  
Shaj Indian Restaurant Ltd which was trading as Shaj Tandoori of High Street, Newbiggin by the Sea, has been fined in a case brought to Court by Northumberland County Council’s Trading Standards Service. 

Shaj Indian Restaurant Ltd was fined £6,000 reduced to £4000 an early guilty plea by Newcastle Magistrates under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, as the food was deemed to be unsafe and injurious to health to those persons who are allergic to peanuts.  The company was also ordered to pay £1,700 in legal and investigation costs, and £400 victim surcharge, making a total of £6,100.  The Company
Director Rezad Choudhury was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £22 victim surcharge after also pleading guilty to two offences.  

In June 2021, Trading Standards Officers from Northumberland County Council received a complaint after an 11-year-old child was hospitalised with anaphylactic shock thought to have been caused by the consumption of a curry from Shaj Tandoori. The meal was ordered by parents on the understanding that it was peanut free.  

Following receipt of the complaint, a formal sample was taken by Trading Standards Officers, who requested a meal from the restaurant requesting specifically that it be provided without peanuts.  The order was taken over the phone and it was confirmed that the meal could be made without peanuts.  

Once the meal was handed over and paid for, the officer advised that the meal would be formally analysed and the presence of peanuts was found in the dish.   

The meal was sent to the Public Analyst who found it actually contained 11.4mg/kg of peanut, rendering the food unsafe to consumers who are allergic to them. 

Mr Choudhury, the director of the business who was tasked with the sourcing of materials and ingredients advised that the cross contamination must have occurred at the supplier and was unable to explain the presence of peanuts in the meal.  

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.   

After the hearing, the parent triggering the Trading Standards investigation stated: “People often think that food allergies are limited to an unpleasant rash or a sniffly cold, but for some people, even the smallest trace of an allergen can be life-threatening, causing their blood pressure to suddenly drop and their airways to close, making it difficult for them to breathe.  

“My son went into anaphylactic shock. Seeing him in that condition was without doubt, the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced.” 
Northumberland County Councillor, Colin Horncastle, 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. 

We welcome this sentence from the Courts which should serve as a warning to other establishments that flout food safety laws. 

“Around two million people living in the UK have food allergies. Around ten of these people die each year as a result of reactions to undeclared allergenic ingredients in food, or poor food preparation practices. Compliance with new laws on allergens is an issue that every takeaway, restaurant and food supplier in the county must make a top priority.” 

Guidance on the fourteen different allergens and allergen controls can be found on the Food Standards Agency website at . 
Owners of businesses in Northumberland can also seek advice direct from the authority’s Trading Standards team by emailing 
Customers who have any concerns about food they have bought should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. 
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