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Restaurant owner in England jailed over customer’s death due to fatal allergic reactions

Every year, around 10 people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food and many more end up in hospital.

A restaurateur, Mohammad Zaman, 53, was imprisoned for six years for killing a customer by selling him a curry containing peanuts. This warned the food businesses to take allergies seriously. Paul Wilson, 38, suffered a fatal allergic reaction to the peanuts.

Wilson, who was meticulous about his condition, had asked for a chicken tikka masala with “no nuts” but his takeaway curry from the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, was cooked with a groundnut mix containing peanuts. “If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at real risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute” said Martin Goldman, chief crown prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside.

Indian garden, one of Zaman's restaurants. Image source Googlle images
Indian garden, one of Zaman’s restaurants. Image source Googlle images

Zaman had run up pounds 294,000 debts in his six restaurants in North Yorkshire. He was cutting costs by using cheaper ingredients and employing untrained, illegal workers. “He put profit before safety” is what said the prosecution. The court heard that less than a month before Wilson’s death in January 2014, another nut allergy sufferer Ruby Scott, 17, was hospitalised after eating a chicken korma from another one of Zaman’s restaurants. Although she had been told the dish did not contain peanuts, she suffered an allergic reaction and had to be injected with adrenaline.

A trading standards officer visited the Jaipur Spice restaurant a week before Wilson’s death and found evidences of peanuts in a meal which was said to be “peanut-free.” Following this, the officer told staff that customers in all of Zaman’s restaurants must be informed that they were using peanuts.

image source Pinterest
Nut Free. Image source Pinterest

Sentencing yesterday (Monday), Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, said Bangladesh-born Zaman had “thrown away” all his success and “done so in pursuit of profit.” On the day after Wilson suffered the fatal anaphylactic shock, another trading standards investigator found Zaman’s restaurant was still claiming it served “nut-free” curries. He was found guilty of all charges.

Wilson’s parents Keith and Margaret urged more catering staff to be trained about allergens, “Justice has been served, Paul can rest in peace,” they added. Every year, around 10 people in the UK die from allergic reactions and many more end up in hospital.

All businesses are criminally liable if they do not provide specific details about allergenic ingredients, states a new law which came into effect since December 2014.

-by Vrushali Mahajan

Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram. You can reach the author at twitter- Vrushali Mahajan 

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