Mohammed Zaman owner of the Indian Garden restaurant, Easingwold, North Yorkshire is accused of manslaughter after Paul Wilson suffered an anaphylactic shock from a curry he ordered as peanut-free.
The court has been told that Mohammed instructed staff to use a groundnut mix which included peanuts in his curries because it was cheaper than almond powder.
Because of this exchange in product, customer Paul Wilson, 38, died after eating the takeaway which contained peanuts despite having asked for a curry with no peanuts and been assured that the dish would be safe for him to eat. Mr Wilson collapsed and was found dead at his home within hours of consuming the meal.
Death could have been prevented!
Mr Zaman did not put in place procedures to ensure that staff were aware of the changes in ingredients and therefore they were not able to communicate this to their customers. Mr Zaman was notified by his supplier that he would need to make changes to his information to ensure peanuts were highlighted, and he ignored the warning.
What allergens can cause anaphylaxis?
This case highlights the dangers of peanuts substitution, however it should be noted that anaphylaxis can be caused by other allergens, Milk, Soya, Eggs and Shellfish. How seriously do your staff take these potentially life threatening ingredients? I am frequently seeing posts on social media where allergy charts are incorrect or misleading and apologies ensue, but are businesses doing enough to audit their procedures and documentation.
Survey highlighting current opinions of those eating out gluten free?
I carried out a quick straw poll survey on a coeliac FB group yesterday, with a group a which has over 11,000 members. I asked when eating out in the last 6 months, how safe have you felt? Have you been told the chips are gluten free when you have later found they are cooked with other gluten containing ingredient ?
The poll above still shows there is a way to go before the FreeFrom and coeliac customer is safe when dining out. Consistency of training and communication needs to be addressed especially in larger restaurant chains where staff turnover is high, to ensure all staff know how to manage the FreeFrom customer safely.
The new allergy labelling regulations which came into force in December 2014 has seen food service business implementing changes into their food safety systems but how robust are they?
Gluten free menu’s verses suitable for gluten intolerance!
Many food businesses are producing a Non Gluten Containing Ingredients (NGCI) menu, or a gluten intolerance menu, are these menus safe for coeliacs? Are the correct measures in place to ensure their customer’s safety. Not only do you have to consider the ingredients but the process required to ensure a safe dining experience.
So are you following the trend and supplying a menu for those with an intolerance? Or do you have procedures in place to ensure that coeliacs can eat safely. Tell your customers what you will do to make them safe not what you can’t do, with disclaimers!
Are your fries gluten free?
For example many business’s state they have gluten free chips/fries, when actually they cook other items in the fryer which will in turn cross contaminate the gluten free product. I have seen many posts where chefs are claiming that because oil is heated to a certain temperature the gluten is killed, 46 people in the poll also have experienced this! These comments are from chefs via servers in major high street chains where training has taken place.
Due diligence defence
Processes and training will show that a company has taken every precaution and shows due dillence to ensure the safety of their customers. We are seeing many businesses training allergy awareness in a domino effect. Area Managers & Training Managers (who may have no previous allergenknowledge) teaching onsite managers, who in turn are informing staff on the ground level. This method is causing misinterpretation of what is and is not appropriate when serving the allergy customer.
Auditing your allergy procedures
Do you have audits reviewing your food safety procedures? Have you considered having a robust audit of your allergy processes? Can you afford not too? Food Allergy Aware can cover both in one audit session.
Recently I was informed of a retail chain which subcontracts to UK wide contractor who’s manager insisted that the sausage served within the brunch did not contain gluten, the allergy chart was checked and it stated that the product was gluten free, the customer who ate the meal was very ill over the next week, and for a couple of weeks after recovery was slow. The customer has been contacted by the area manager who apologised for the inconvenience caused and informed her that the labelling of the sausage on the allergen chart which was incorrect. If this customer had been allergic to wheat then this case could be a different matter, there could have been prosecution pending!
Even 5 star hotels are getting it wrong in a recent post I came across a situation, a customer has taken a couple of weeks to get back to work after being glutened at a well known 5 star hotel which sent her immune system into orbit and she ended up with what they call “walking pneumonia” fortunately she wasn’t hospitalised but it was borderline as to whether she would be. The lady in question was very ill and had a free pass to hospital any time if needed. The issue was raised with said hotel who admitted liability and a refund given but it doesn’t compensate for 2 weeks of sheer misery that this lady had to endure.
Training is key to ensure consistency of service to the FreeFrom customer, if you get it right they will praise, recommend and be loyal to your business. But to ensure customer safety, procedures need to be in place where staff know their limitations on information given, and how this should be given correctly and consistently to the customer to guarentee their safety.
Rainforest Café Allergy Accredited
Take a leaf out of the Rainforest Café’s book, they have a strict documented passport procedure when managing the FreeFrom customer which all staff are aware of, there are steps within the process which have to be adhered too at all times, from manager to server to kitchen. There is a strong communication chain which has given them credibility, because of this they have been accredited by Allergy UK read more here
Food Allergy Aware offers training, consultancy auditing and mystery diner services to assist your in providing for the FreeFrom customer. Talk to us today by calling 07732637292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember its not just about Gluten!
Check out our offerings here www.fatc.co.uk/services
Read more about the court case by clicking here