Indian restaurant ordered to pay almost £7,000 after traces of peanut found in nut-free curry

Bosses of an Indian restaurant have been ordered to pay almost £7,000 after traces of peanut were found to cause a danger to health.

Monday, 9th September 2019, 1:53 pm
Sagar, in Featherbed Court in Seaham. Image copyright Google Maps.
Sagar, in Featherbed Court in Seaham. Image copyright Google Maps.

Food safety officers from Durham County Council conducted a test purchase from the Sagar Indian Restaurant and Takeaway, owned by the company Sagar Seaham Limited.

One of the officers had explained she had a peanut allergy and asked if the restaurant could supply a curry made without them.

However, Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard that despite staff at the restaurant confirming that the dish supplied would be nut-free, when sent to an analyst it was confirmed that peanut protein was present in the curry at a level sufficient to induce an allergic reaction.

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Sagar Indian Restaurant and Takeaway, Seaham, is now facing a fine following the investigation by food safety officers.

Following that check last November, in January food safety officers returned to the restaurant premises in Featherbed Court, on East Shore Village, where they identified potential for cross-contamination.

The uncovered nut powder was kept next to other spices and above the cooking area.

The restaurant had already received a warning from the council after a test purchase in 2015 had identified traces of peanuts in a nut-free dish. In response the council sent an invitation to a free seminar on allergens to the business, which nobody attended.

After, the company was sent a warning letter which strongly recommended that the business did not offer to provide nut-free meals due to the potential risks of cross-contamination.

Sagar Indian Restaurant and Takeaway, Seaham, faced action following checks by Durham County Council.

In mitigation the company’s solicitor said the restaurant has now made several changes, including the implementation of a strict staff training regime which educates on allergies.

The restaurant also now advises it is unable to guarantee an allergen-free meal.

No representatives from the restaurant attended court but due to the early guilty plea the company was fined £5,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,293.95 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, said: “Recent high-profile deaths resulting from allergic reaction to food illustrate the importance of this case.

“The risk to members of the public who may be exposed to allergens either due to

poor practices during food preparation or through undeclared ingredients can be severe.

“Customers who suffer from allergies expect food businesses to take their needs seriously.

“We hope the sentence imposed by the magistrates serves as a warning to food businesses that fail to control the risks posed by allergens.”