THE owner of a string of award-winning restaurants has been charged with manslaughter after a customer died following a severe allergic reaction to eating one of his curries.
Paul Wilson, 38, was killed by anaphylactic shock after eating the curry from a takeaway on January 30 last year which is believed to have contained nuts.
In the first such case, restaurant owner Mohammed Khalique Zaman, 52, was charged with manslaughter by gross negligence over the tragedy. Wilson bought the meal from The Indian Garden in Yorkshire just months before the introduction of a law requiring food businesses to provide allergy information on all unpackaged food.
Wilson was found collapsed in his bathroom and paramedics were unable to revive him. Since December 2014, restaurants and takeaways have been required to tell customers if any of the top 14 allergen ingredients are in the foods they serve.
These include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin.
The changes were introduced to make consumers feel more confident when asking about allergenic ingredients when eating out.
On average 10 people die and 5,000 are hospitalised per year due to allergic reactions. Takeaways and restaurants who don’t tell customers about any allergens in their food run the risk of being taken to court and fined.
Trading Standards has recently begun clamping down on restaurants who use ground peanuts instead of ground almonds because they are cheaper, but do not disclose the ingredient. Most consumers would be unable to tell the difference, but for those suffering from a peanut allergy, eating the mislabelled food could prove fatal.
Earlier this year, teenager Shahida Shahid from Manchester died after a meal at burger bar Almost Famous. She is thought to have told staff about her allergies before eating there, an inquest heard. Police understand staff at the eatery advised the 18-year-old that a chicken dish would be appropriate for her after she flagged up her allergies. However initial tests revealed the cause of death was brain damage caused by a severe allergic reaction after the meal.
In 2011, The Spice Lounge in Norfolk was ordered to pay £6,000 when a diner needed treatment after eating dairy despite warning of allergies.
Zaman has run restaurants across north Yorkshire and York for over 25 years, including the Jaipur Spice chain, which won the Best In Yorkshire award at the Bangladeshi Catering Association Awards in 2012 and 2013.
Peter Mann, head of the CPS complex casework unit, said following a 14-month investigation, it had concluded there was sufficient evidence and public interest to charge Zaman.
“There is sufficient evidence to charge Mohammed Khalique Zaman with manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and an employment offence under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006,” he said.
Zaman will appear before Northallerton Magistrates court on April 24.