Former takeaway owner fined after allergy warning was ignored

Date published: 23 April 2019


A former takeaway owner has been prosecuted over food safety offences after selling products containing milk to a customer who reported being allergic to it.

Rochdale Borough Council purchased a sample meal from Harry’s Chicken on Yorkshire Street to test their compliance with allergen information.

In November 2018, a council officer ordered dishes via an online app, with the delivery message ‘no cheese please, I’m allergic to milk’.

After the order was collected the dishes were analysed. The analysis showed that two dishes contained milk which could have proved fatal for a customer with a milk allergy. 

The council carried out the sample test after serving an improvement notice on the business in October 2017 for not providing accurate allergen information. The improvement notice was accompanied with advice on how to provide accurate allergen information, which was delivered in writing and in a visit from council officers.

 

The allergen chart that was displayed at Harry's Chicken
The allergen chart that was displayed at Harry's Chicken

 

At Manchester and Salford magistrates’ court on 4 April 2019, Mohammed Niqash Mujahid entered guilty pleas to eight offences of placing unsafe food on the market, selling food not of the nature demanded, and omitting material information. 

He received fines, costs and a victim surcharge totalling £830.  He is no longer involved in Harry’s Chicken, which is under new management. 

Nicola Rogers, head of public protection at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We want to ensure that residents with allergies are able to order food safely and confidently. If this order had been placed by someone with a genuine allergy the consequences could have been devastating. 

“It is important that we pursue prosecutions like this to ensure that businesses are heavily penalised if they don’t put the safety of our residents at the top of their priorities.” 

In 2018 the owner and manager of a takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, were jailed for manslaughter after a 15-year-old girl died from a peanut allergy. Megan Lee had highlighted her allergies in her takeaway order but was ignored. 

The exercise carried out on Harry’s Chicken is part of the council’s work to ensure businesses are taking their responsibilities around allergens seriously. The council has recently visited nearly 200 businesses and will be carrying out more sampling in the coming months. 

The Food Information Regulations 2014 require food businesses to either provide all allergen information upfront or to display a sign requesting that customers ask for allergen information if they need it.  This also applies to websites and apps. 

Businesses must provide accurate information about what is in the food they serve and they must manage food properly to avoid any cross-contamination. 

Despite having food clearly labelled with allergen information and displaying a chart showing which foods contained allergens, Mr Mujahid failed to check that the dishes he was serving were safe for the allergies specified.

For more information on food allergens and to report any concerns you have about a business call the council’s environmental health team on 0300 303 8871 or visit: 

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