Two years after the sad event, yesterday justice has been served for Mr. Paul Wilson and his family. Paul, who suffered from a severe peanut allergy, died from anaphylactic shock after eating a take away meal from an Indian restaurant in North Yorkshire on January 2014.
The curry house owner, charged with manslaughter, has now been jailed for six years. Despite the customer’s warning not to put peanuts in his order because of his allergy, he has been served curry with ground peanut, instead of ground almond powder.
The restaurant owner, who was in money trouble, had chosen to use the cheaper alternative in his kitchen in order to cut costs. He refused to change the warnings about allergens on his menu and this, in the end, the jury found led to Mr. Wilson’s death.
Unfortunately, this is not the only case of someone dying from an allergic reaction after eating in restaurants. In the UK around 10% of people are affected by food allergies and intolerances. This means food businesses must pay attention when providing information on allergens used in their kitchen if they don’t want to get into serious trouble.
According to the EU law “any pre-packed food or drink sold in the UK must clearly state on the label if it contains the following 14 allergens: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soybeans and some food preservatives”. Also, every food business must provide information on any of these 14 allergens used in their dishes.
In this sense, staff training is a fundamental issue. Every member of the staff needs to be prepared and able to provide the right information to customers when required. As the tragic case of Paul Wilson teaches us, a mistake can be fatal and lead to an unnecessary death.
In the catering industry, taking care of customers is a duty, not an option. For more information regarding the EU law in the food industry, you can refer to the Food Standards Agency by following this link.