Fatality over the festive period puts allergen awareness back into spotlight

Published: 19 Jan 2017

The importance of the understanding of allergen awareness and compliance with food safety law was once again brought to the forefront after an unfortunate incident resulted in the death of a teenager over this festive period.

Megan Lee from Oswaldtwistle suffered an allergic reaction when she consumed a take-away curry which resulted in her death on New Year’s Day. The teenager, was rushed to hospital on 30 December but died on New Year’s Day. It is thought that the teenager had a nut allergy.

The takeaway that Miss Lee ate was from The Royal Spice, on Union Road, Oswaldtwistle. The restaurant has been temporarily closed by Hyndburn Council due to below standard allergen management and a mice infestation. Two men were arrested on the suspicion of involuntary manslaughter by gross negligence by Lancashire Police, they have since been released on bail.

It is understood that although the post mortem into Miss Lee’s death had been completed, the full results are still not yet known. This is not the first case of this nature. As previously reported in 2016, Mohammed Zaman, owner of the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. This followed the death of a patron who had consumed a curry containing nut powder despite making the restaurant aware of the nut allergy.

With legislation regarding management of allergens now firmly embedded in food safety law, there is no excuse for food business owners not to manage this aspect of their operation.

The risk of possible allergic reactions and fatalities can be avoided if basic food safety fundamentals are put in place.

  1. Ensure that company recipes and menus are updated to reflect changes in ingredient content.
  2. Up to date information pertaining to allergen content of foods sold/served in the food establishment must be readily available for patrons. Menus and/or display boards can be used for this purpose.
  3. Members of the kitchen team and front of house must also be knowledgeable of the allergen content of food. The provision and use of an up to date allergen matrix cannot be understated.

For further advice, training or assistance, do not hesitate to contact CSC.