Trade urged to check allergen procedures after restaurateur's manslaughter verdict

By Emma Eversham contact

- Last updated on GMT

Peanut curry death hospitality trade warning

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Foodservice operators are being urged to check processes and procedures around allergen compliance after a restaurant owner was found guilty of and jailed for manslaughter following the death of one of his customers with a peanut allergy.

Paul Wilson, a bar manager from Helperby had asked for no nuts when he ordered a takeaway from the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold, North Yorkshire in January 2014. 

However, the 38-year-old suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating his food and later died at home.

At the trial of the restaurant’s owner Mohammed Zaman at Teesside Crown Court the jury heard he had replaced almond powder in recipes for cheaper groundnut mix which contained peanuts in a bid to save money.

The prosecution said Zaman had received ‘numerous warnings’ that he was risking his customers’ health, but ignored them. 

Yesterday (23 May) Zaman was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and sentenced to six years in jail after a jury at Teesside Crown Court found him guilty in what is thought to be a first in a case of its kind. 

Allergen information

The Food Standards Agency, which oversaw the introduction of allergen legislation into foodservice in 2014, said it welcomed the verdict as it ‘highlights the importance of providing lifesaving food allergen information. 

“Since December 2014, all businesses are obliged by law to provide this information if the foods they serve contain any of the 14 specific allergenic ingredients. This enables those with food allergies to make safe food choices and avoid hospitalisation and potential death,” said a FSA spokesperson. 

Tarryn Gorre, co-founder of Kafoodle, a cloud-based menu management software system, said: "This tragic case will no doubt make the hospitality industry re-evaluate their processes and procedures surrounding allergen compliance.  Since the EU directive was released in December 2014 a lot of businesses have struggled in interpreting exactly what they need to do, to be compliant.” 

Gorre said back office systems could help businesses manage allergen compliance and confidently share the information with their customers.

Under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation all foodservice businesses must list 14 allergens on menus or have their presence communicated by staff. 

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