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'Reckless' Restaurant Owner Found Guilty Of Manslaughter After Customer’s Fatal Allergic Reaction

Jury Heard Takeaway Owner Swapped Ground Almonds for Cheaper Alternative Containing Peanuts


A restaurant owner has been sentenced to six years in prison after a 38-year-old allergy-sufferer died after eating a takeaway containing nuts from the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

A jury found Mohammed Zaman, 52, of Huntington, guilty of manslaughter after a trial at Teesside Crown Court found that he cut corners by using cheaper ingredients containing peanuts.

Victim, Paul Wilson, 38, suffered a severe anaphylactic shock in January 2014 after eating a small amount of chicken tikka masala which contained peanuts despite specifying “no nuts” when he ordered the takeaway – instructions which were written on the lid of the container.

The following day a trading standards investigator went to the Indian Garden and asked for a nut-free dish, but when test results came back, they showed the meal contained a sizeable amount of ground peanuts comparable to the level in Mr Wilson's curry.

A food allergy is a rapid and potentially serious response to a foodstuff by your immune system. It can trigger classic allergy symptoms such as a rash, wheezing and itching, and there is no known cure. According to the Food Standards Agency, around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year due to undeclared allergenic ingredients.

Amandeep Dhillon, a Partner and expert Public Health lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who works closely with food allergy professionals, said:

Expert Opinion
“While this sentence should send a clear message to food business owners that putting profit before public health will not go unpunished, the victim, Mr Wilson is the one who has paid the ultimate price.

“Since the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) rule change in December 2014, all businesses now need to inform customers when any of the 14 specific allergenic ingredients, including peanuts, egg and milk, are present in the food they manufacture or serve.

“Consumers with allergies should not feel as though they are putting their life at risk every time they eat away from home. In this case the jury heard of Mr Wilson’s fastidious approach to his allergy, which should have been enough for the takeaway to provide him with a safe meal.

“Mr Wilson’s death was entirely avoidable, and the only good that can now come of this horrific tragedy is if no other family has to suffer a loss like this again.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner

Mr Zaman rejected allegations that he was responsible, despite the court hearing he had switched almond powder for a cheaper groundnut mix, which contained peanuts to reduce costs.

He said he left managers to run his restaurants and it was they who would order stock.  He was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six food safety offences.

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