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Restaurant served peanut to teen with nut allergy

An Indian restaurant has been fined for serving food containing peanut to a teenager with a nut allergy.

The operators of Gulshan in Hotspur Street, Tynemouth, were fined £3,767 with £2,744 costs and ordered to pay £1,000 compensation and a £170 victim surcharge after admitting an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990 at North Tyneside Magistrates Court on Tuesday (26 November).

Ian Palmer, prosecuting on behalf of North Tyneside Council, told the court that the family, who are from North Shields, had booked a meal at the restaurant on 10 November 2018 after being told by the premises that they were able to cater for a peanut allergy among the party.

On arrival the family were reassured again by staff, including by their waiter, that the food would be peanut-free.

The teenager ordered a chicken masala curry dish but after only two or three mouthfuls suffered an allergic reaction.

The victim was driven to North Tyneside General Hospital for initial treatment and then transferred to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital as a medical emergency and discharged the following day.

Officers from North Tyneside Council’s Food Safety team were informed of the incident and, after interviewing the family, remnants of the curry meal were tested in a laboratory.

The meal was found to contain peanut protein of a sufficient level to cause an allergic reaction by someone susceptible to a peanut allergy.

Further investigations identified inadequate food safety controls at the restaurant to manage allergens. This included: wrongly labelled ingredients; insufficient separation of food to prevent cross-contamination of allergen ingredients; a lack of staff training; and failure to implement a system or procedure to deal with allergen requests.

This resulted in the food hygiene rating decreasing from 4 (good) to 1 (major improvements necessary).

Gulshan, which is operated by Sonero Tynemouth Ltd, subsequently worked with Food Safety Officers to ensure adequate food safety procedures were in place and to implement a staff training programme that included allergens. The business requested a re-inspection in April 2019 and achieved an overall rating of 5 (very good).   

Phil Scott, Head of Environment, Housing and Leisure, North Tyneside Council, said: “It’s hugely important that people with food allergies have the confidence that regulations are being followed.

“We’ve all seen the media reports of tragic deaths caused by reactions to food so these issues should be a priority for all food establishments. 

“As demonstrated by this case, our team will not hesitate to prosecute where necessary but will also provide advice and support to ensure businesses are compliant.”

The Environmental Health Service, which includes the Food Safety Team, is delivered for North Tyneside Council by its partner Capita.