Restaurateur jailed for 6 years

BHA Allergen ToolkitIn what is probably a legal first, a restaurateur was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six food safety offences.

Visiting an Indian restaurant in North Yorkshire, customer Paul Wilson asked for a nut free curry, but his curry contained peanuts. This tragic incident occurred prior to the Food Information for Consumers Regulations, which requires restaurants to share information about allergenic ingredients in food with customers. There has always been a requirement for people to be told the truth about food. The court heard that the restaurant had been reckless, because it transpired that a few weeks before this incident, another person had suffered an allergic reaction for the same reasons from one of the owner’s six restaurants. She survived but was hospitalised.

Dr Lisa Ackerley, Food Safety Advisor at the BHA said: “Many businesses may be tempted to buy cheaper ingredients, particularly as in this case, where the restaurant was in debt and struggling, but our message is “beware” - you get what you pay for. Check your ingredients and be mindful of food fraud as substitutions and adulterated products can be dangerous. If it is too good to be true, then there is probably something wrong with it.

“The role of the British Hospitality Association is to continue to help businesses get up to speed with the regulations, decoding them into practical, useful support for members. That’s why we created a Guidance Toolkit designed to help restaurants, hotels, and catering businesses implement these compliance measures without unnecessary fuss. It’s available free to all members and includes a toolkit, training notes and printable tools to use in your establishment."

Caterers need to take heed:

  • Be vigilant about what goods you order and check that they are what you asked for.
  • Make sure that you are totally confident about the ingredients in yours dishes.
  • Consumers have a right to know about allergenic ingredients in food, and will ask questions.
  • If you don’t know, you risk facing criminal action, and harming your customers.
  • Make sure all your team is allergen trained and know exactly what is in your dishes
  • Don’t allow substitutions without involving trained managers who can then make the appropriate process changes

For more information on allergens, see the BHA toolkit: http://bit.ly/BHAallergenToolkit

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