THE owners of an Indian takeaway were ‘negligent’ for serving a curry with traces of peanut to a customer who they had been informed had a nut allergy.

Koyesh Ali and Giash Uddin, owners of The Little Indian takeaway in Mirehouse, Whitehaven, later blamed staff for the error, which could have proved fatal for an allergy sufferer.

The pair have been fined following a prosecution brought to court by Cumberland Council, on behalf of Trading Standards.

Outlining the case at Workington Magistrates’ Court, Richard Farnworth, for the council, said the incident involved the sale of a curry to a Trading Standards Officer, who made out he was allergic to peanuts.

On July 4, 2022, Trading Standards had made an informal test purchase at The Little Indian and made clear that the meal must not contain peanuts.

The officer was advised that it might contain coconut powder but would not contain peanuts. The meal was sent for analysis and was found to contain peanuts.

On August 1, 2022, Trading Standards wrote to the business, telling them about the results of the test purchase.

The business was warned about the peanut in the meal that was significant enough to provoke a reaction in someone with an allergy and that such reactions can be fatal.

A formal test purchase was then carried out on October 10, 2022, and the officer made clear he was allergic to peanuts.

He was served by Mr Uddin and both Mr Uddin and Mr Ali were present when the meal was ordered and provided. Mr Uddin confirmed the meal only contained coconut powder.

The meal was sent for analysis and was found to contain traces of peanut in sufficient quantity to make it unsafe for someone with a peanut allergy.

Mr Farnworth told the court that allergic reactions to peanuts can be ‘extremely serious’ and can result in death.

He said all takeaways must take food allergies ‘very seriously’ and should only agree to provide an allergen-free meal if they are ‘absolutely sure’ that none of the ingredients will be in the food.

The court heard that Trading Standards regularly conduct test purchases to ensure the public remains safe.

Trading Standards returned to The Little Indian in January 2023 to provide Mr Uddin and Mr Ali with the results of the analysis.

Whitehaven News: Trading Standards visited The Little Indian in Mirehouse, Whitehaven, following the test purchase which found traces of peanutTrading Standards visited The Little Indian in Mirehouse, Whitehaven, following the test purchase which found traces of peanut (Image: Google Street View)

It was noticed there was a bag of coconut powder in the kitchen and the ingredients noted it may contain traces of nuts.

An analysis showed there was no peanut in the coconut powder. Therefore, the most likely cause was cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Mr Ali was interviewed under caution and said there was no staff training concerning allergens but that staff knew the basics.

There was no instructions to staff on how to deal with a request for an allergen-free meal.

Mr Ali initially blamed the meal on the coconut powder. After being told it didn’t contain peanut, he couldn’t explain how peanut got into the meal and blamed his staff.

Mr Uddin was also interviewed and said he was the only one working there with a certificate in food allergies.

Both Mr Ali and Mr Uddin denied receiving written advice from Trading Standards after the first test purchase.

Mr Farnworth said the pair had been ‘negligent’ and there was a ‘clear risk’ that a genuine peanut allergy sufferer asking for a peanut-free meal would have been provided with a meal containing peanut.

Mr Ali, of Wellington Row, Whitehaven, and Mr Uddin, of Rosemary Close, Whitehaven, admitted selling food not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser.

Mike Pope, defending, said Mr Ali and Mr Uddin had cooperated fully with the Trading Standards officers and were both interviewed voluntarily.

He said: “They have been in business since 2007 without any complaints at all. Whatever they were doing from 2007 until July 2022 hadn’t caused any problems with anybody.

“The longevity of their business is testament to their good reputation which will be damaged by the bad publicity of the case.

“Neither defendant can say how the food came to be contaminated with peanut protein. They accept it’s most likely to be cross-contamination from cooking other meals.

“They are no longer going to provide allergen-free products in their menu.”

Passing sentence, chair of the magistrates, Jeff Forster, said: “These have been acts that a person exercising reasonable care would not commit.”

Mr Ali was fined £653 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a £261 victim surcharge.

Mr Uddin was fined £692 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs and a £277 victim surcharge.