It has recently been reported that a curry house owner was convicted of gross negligence and sentenced to six years imprisonment after the death of a customer with a nut allergy. It is thought to be the first conviction of its kind and sends a strong message to food businesses to take allergies seriously.

Paul Wilson had a severe nut allergy and he emphasised his condition when he ordered a takeaway from the Indian Garden restaurant in North Yorkshire. He suffered a severe anaphylactic shock after just a couple of bites of his “no nuts” curry and later died.

The curry house owner, Mohammed Zaman, had switched almond powder for a cheaper ground nut mix and had not warned customers of the potential life threatening risk to those suffering with a peanut allergy.

Just 3 weeks earlier, in one of his other restaurants, a customer was hospitalised with the same allergic reaction and Mr Zaman ignored the risks. Later, an inspection showed that even after the customer’s death, the restaurant owner was still using the cheaper nut-based ingredient, risking further lives.

On 23 May 2016, Mr Zaman was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. He was also convicted of six food safety offences.

Lessons for food business owners:

  • Review current practices to identify risks and potential exposure
  • Know the breakdown of ingredients and look for potential allergens
  • Identify possible allergens on menus
  • If you cannot guarantee a dish will not be contaminated, advise the customer

Consequences of ignoring allergen regulations:

  • Criminal prosecution, fines and prison sentence for death of or injury to a customer
  • Civil claims for compensation
  • Reputational damage from adverse publicity
  • Restaurant closure by authorities