London: In the first such case, the owner of a string of award-winning Indian restaurants in the UK has been charged with the manslaughter of a 38-year-old customer who died following a severe allergic reaction after eating a curry that contained peanuts. Paul Wilson was killed by anaphylactic shock after eating the curry from a takeaway which is believed to have contained the nuts, The Telegraph reported.
On Wednesday, restaurant owner Mohammed Khalique Zaman, 52, was charged with manslaughter by gross negligence over the tragedy. It is the first time that a restaurant owner has faced such a charge. Wilson, who lived near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, bought the meal from The Indian Garden, in nearby Easingwold, in January 2014 just months before the introduction of a law requiring food businesses to provide allergy information on all unpackaged food.
Wilson, who had a six-year-old son and had recently been promoted to deputy manager at the Oak Tree pub in Helperby, was found collapsed in his bathroom. Paramedics were unable to revive him. Although allergies are increasingly common, only around 10 people die annually in the UK from reactions to food. 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. Previously Trading Standards had dealt with similar cases. In 2011, The Spice Lounge in Norfolk was ordered to pay 6,000 pounds when a diner needed emergency treatment after eating dairy despite warning of allergies.
But in December, new EU legislation came into force which compels restaurants to declare if their food contained allergens, such as nuts, milk, celery, gluten and soya. Zaman has run several restaurants across North Yorkshire and York for more than 25 years, including the Jaipur Spice chain, which won the Best In Yorkshire award at the Bangladeshi Catering Association Awards in 2012 and 2013.
But Peter Mann, head of the CPS complex casework unit, said following a 14-month investigation, it had concluded there was sufficient evidence, and that it was in the public interest to charge Zaman. Police originally arrested two men – Zaman and an unknown 38-year-old employee – in connection with the death but the younger man was released without charge.
Zaman, 52, from York, has also been charged with perverting the course of justice and an employment offence under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. He will appear before Northallerton Magistrates’ tomorrow.
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