£3k court bill for restaurant over peanuts in peanut-free dishes

A Sandwell restaurant owner has been ordered to pay more than £3,000 in fines and costs after serving food that should have been peanut-free but that contained peanuts.

The dishes served at Mozalicious in Langley could have resulted in a potentially fatal reaction for someone with a peanut allergy. Owner Afsar Ali, aged 31, was fined at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court following an investigation and prosecution by the council’s trading standards and legal teams.

Trading standards officers visited Mozalicious along with more than 40 other restaurants during November and December 2017. Posing as customers with peanut allergies, they requested peanut-free meals. Subsequent laboratory analysis found the dishes of butter lamb contained enough peanut to produce a reaction in someone with a peanut allergy, which could be potentially fatal.

Magistrates were unconvinced by Mr Ali’s claims that the officers had never requested that the meals be made without peanut and that he had done everything in his power to prevent such an incident occurring.

This was confirmed by Sandwell Council environmental health officers who were carrying out a food hygiene inspection at the same time. Their evidence showed that restaurant staff were not following strict allergen control procedures including a chef using the same spoon for nut power, as well as for other ingredients.

Mr Ali was found guilty of providing food that was not of the quality demanded and that was unsafe. He was ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling £3,174.40. Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, said:

“The restaurant in this case was told on two separate occasions by the officers that the meals needed to be peanut-free. If the meals had been served to someone genuinely suffering from a peanut allergy, then the consequences could have been fatal.

“Our officers have worked hard and continue to work hard to provide all food businesses in Sandwell with information about allergen control to protect our residents and prevent incidents like this occurring.

“Our advice is that if a restaurant is not able to provide meals that are free of allergens them they should not offer to do so.”

Mr Ali was found guilty following a trial. He was sentenced on 28 February to a fine of £1,200 and ordered to pay £1,854.40 in costs and a victim's surcharge of £120, making a total of £3,174.40.


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