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Author Topic: Customers with allergies
Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1974
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 05-24-2016 12:49 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Restaurateur gets six years in jail after customer with peanut allergy dies
quote:
Food businesses have been warned to take allergies seriously after a restaurateur was imprisoned for six years for killing a customer by selling him a curry containing peanuts.

In a legal first, Mohammed Zaman, 53, was convicted of manslaughter after 38-year-old Paul Wilson 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.

Yesterday police and prosecutors said the case sent a very clear message to the catering industry.

Martin Goldman, chief crown prosecutor for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at real risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute.”

A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard how Zaman, who had run up roughly $560,000 debts in his six restaurants in North Yorkshire, was cutting costs by using cheaper ingredients and employing untrained, illegal workers. The prosecution said the owner had “put profit before safety”.

The court heard that less than a month before Wilson’s death in January 2014, another nut allergy sufferer Ruby Scott, 17, was hospitalized 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.

This prompted a visit by a trading standards officer who visited the Jaipur Spice restaurant a week before Wilson’s death, and found evidence of peanuts in a meal the officer had been told was peanut-free.

If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at real risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute

Following this, the officer told staff that customers in all of Zaman’s restaurants must be informed that they were using peanuts.

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.

Sentencing yesterday (Monday), Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, said Bangladesh-born Zaman had “thrown away” all his success and “done so in pursuit of profit.”
The judge said Zaman had told “many lies” to the jury, adding: “You remain in complete and utter denial for what you have done.”

Zaman, from Huntington, York, denied manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and six food safety offences. He was found guilty of all charges except perverting the course of justice.

Outside court, Wilson’s parents Keith and Margaret urged more catering staff to be trained about allergens. They added: “Justice has been served, Paul can rest in peace.”

Every year, around 10 people in the U.K. die from allergic reactions and many more end up in hospital.

A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said the prosecution was the first of its kind since a new law came into effect since December 2014, which says all businesses are criminally liable if they do not provide specific details about allergenic ingredients.

Ok, so this is an extreme case but I'm now thinking about what people should do or need to do with things like theatres? I am personally not prepared to provide anyone with a 100% guarantee that anything that I sell does or does not contain any particular ingredient. Who knows if the label on the box or can is accurate, or what may or may not have happened to it on the way from where it was made to my theatre. What about a kid who purchases a box of peanuts and smashes them... the customer beside or behind him will be expose to "peanut gas" (is there such a thing?) and may have a reaction.

There is a warning label on the hose that connects the Diet Pepsi tank to the machine stating words to the effect that connecting anything with sugar in it to that line may be a hazard to life and health. But the actual hose connector is exactly the same as the hose connector for the regular Pepsi that's right beside it so it could phyiscally happen that a regular Pepsi tank gets hooked up there.

I wonder how seriously we have to take this stuff, especially if they're putting people in jail for it.

I never heard of anyone with a peanut allergy when I was a kid. Did I just lead a sheltered life, or was there really no such thing until relatively recently? Nobody at the schools I attended worried about peanut butter sandwiches and so on; at least not that I ever became aware of. Now it seems to be a number one issue. I remember reading about a woman who wanted all of the trees surrounding a school to be cut down because they produced nuts a few years ago, even.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7036
From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 05-24-2016 02:16 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to live about 10 miles from this place, and people I know who lived in Easingwold told me that it had a reputation for poor hygiene, food poisoning incidents, you name it, throughout the '00s.

quote: Article
A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard how Zaman, who had run up roughly $560,000 debts in his six restaurants in North Yorkshire, was cutting costs by using cheaper ingredients and employing untrained, illegal workers. The prosecution said the owner had “put profit before safety”.
I think this is why he got such a tough sentence. This isn't a case of "There but for the grace...", and an honest business owner who made an error that any one of us could and was excessively punished for it. Rather, he promised his customer that the meal was nut-free (and once you've done that, you've made an undertaking to deliver on that promise), when he knew full well that he was taking risks and shortcuts such that it was grossly irresponsible to make that promise.

I am very, very lactose intolerant, to the point of being an anaphylactic shock risk: I cannot eat anything that contains, milk, butter, eggs or cheese. Needless to say, that makes it very difficult to eat out, and there have been times when I've been told in a restaurant that they simply can't guarantee that a given menu item is dairy-free or could not have been contaminated during the food preparation process, and therefore that I order it at my own risk. That is what this guy should have done when asked if something was peanut-free. The fact that he was willing to say anything to make the sale is the problem here.

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Rick Raskin
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From: Manassas Virginia
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 - posted 05-24-2016 03:45 PM      Profile for Rick Raskin   Email Rick Raskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Frank: If you are concerned beyond simple curiosity, have your attorney draft a food allergy disclaimer.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2112
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 05-24-2016 03:50 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Leo Enticknap
and therefore that I order it at my own risk.
Knowing that Thai food commonly has nuts, I would think someone with this type of allergy would stay clear because there is such a high risk of cross contamination. I am not at all unsympathetic to people with severe food allergies, I just don't know that it's fair or reasonable for placing such a large burden on others who may not understand the specific needs of the individual.

At the same time, I think there is an opportunity in large cities to open a restaurant which is specifically geared toward people with these food allergies. I know nuts and shell fish are probably the most common foods which result in life threatening allergy attacks. So open a restaurant where these items never even come in the door.

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1974
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 05-24-2016 04:07 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think it still would be pretty hard, i.e. impossible, to provide people with an absolute guarantee that anything is peanut, milk, or anything-else free. A google search for "recall undisclosed milk" brings up pages and pages of items ranging from weiners to pudding to protein powder. "Recall undisclosed peanut" gives similar results.

Ok, perhaps a restaurant owner could pass the blame for that up-the-line to the manufacturer (at great cost in legal fees, time and stress). But what about the person who arrives at your restaurant and smuggles in a peanut butter sandwich for their kid? I'm sure that's happened many times in most restaurants. We all know what weird and wonderful things people will sneak into a movie -- I've picked up everything here from a full case of beer (including the case) to chicken dinners.

You just can't control what the public will do, especially if they figure they'll be able to save a buck or get away with something that they think is clever.

I occasionally have someone ask me what oil the popcorn is cooked in, I assume due to some allergy concern. Any time that happens, I don't actually say anything to them about what it contains -- I hand them the jug of oil so they can read the ingredients sticker for themselves. I'm afraid to say anything about it for fear of being mis-heard or mis-interpreted, so I just don't say anything at all.

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Justin Hamaker
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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 05-24-2016 04:13 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Frank, I have a friend with Celiac disease. I am constantly blown away by the range of products she has to avoid for fear of accidental gluten contact. However, it seems like it is the cheaper products which tend to use various forms of gluten containing ingredients for things like thickening. I would imagine the same holds for other serious allergens. You just have to source from suppliers who are certified to not use that particular allergen in their plant or ingredients.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 05-24-2016 04:39 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, technically the peanut is not a nut, it is a legume (things I learned from Ripley's Believe it or Not as a kid). Still, peanut allergies are one of the most common and deadly, so restauranteurs should be trained in them as much as shellfish allergies.
On the other hand, if the customer really just asked for a meal without nuts, it may have just been taken as "I don't like nuts" and so no one thought about the nuts and peanuts that permeate the whole kitchen.
Moral of the story, keep an epi pen available in the first aid kit.

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Leo Enticknap
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Posts: 7036
From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 05-25-2016 09:31 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Cox
I never heard of anyone with a peanut allergy when I was a kid. Did I just lead a sheltered life, or was there really no such thing until relatively recently?
I once read an article (can't remember where - sorry), which suggested that cases of extreme food allergies have increased significantly in the last couple of decades. It speculated at a number of possible causes, including genetically modified stuff triggering unhelpful immune system reactions which the sufferer then passes to his or her children, and the growth of intercontinental migration (e.g. Asia to America, Africa to Europe) resulting in people of ethnicities that have become genetically intolerant to certain foods migrating from somewhere these foods are not common (and so they wouldn't have had the opportunity to eat them) to somewhere they are.

But I think a lot of it is communication. Something like a peanut allergic reaction that is so extreme as to be fatal is very, very rare, and so in the pre-Internet era, we'd only have heard about an instance of it happening if the "traditional" media heard about it and decided to run the story, too. Today, it's all over social media every time something like this happens, and so I suspect that a lot of this is heightened awareness rather than more of it actually happening.

quote: Justin Hamaker
Frank, I have a friend with Celiac disease. I am constantly blown away by the range of products she has to avoid for fear of accidental gluten contact. However, it seems like it is the cheaper products which tend to use various forms of gluten containing ingredients for things like thickening.
It's a real pain if the allergy you're coping with is an unusual one. As a general rule, if you go in to any well run restaurant and mention a nut or seafood allergy (for example), they'll know how to deal with that (even if that means telling you that it's not safe to eat there), exactly what menu items are OK and what aren't, and so on. But gluten, and in my case dairy, is more difficult for them, because they don't encounter it as often. I've had times when even the chef has been unable to say for sure if there is any dairy in a given dish, and I guess your friend comes across the same issue with wheat gluten.

A few weeks ago a pic was doing the rounds of the net (sorry - just tried to find it on Google Images, without any luck) of a handwritten notice in the window of a Chinese restaurant in a not very upscale part of Oakland. It read: "We use gluten and MSG in all of our dishes. If any of you liberal pussies don't like that, go eat some place else!" I guess anyone who eats there can't say they weren't warned...

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 05-25-2016 12:30 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I see disclaimers on packaging all the time that say one of these:

"processed in a facility that also processes [whatever allergen]"

or

"may contain [whatever allergen]"

In both cases, the official/nominal ingredient lists are provided.

This would seem to mitigate the risk of exposure by placing the burden on the informed consumer to make the call.

quote: Martin McCaffery
Moral of the story, keep an epi pen available in the first aid kit.
Ah! But beware -- Epi-pen requires a prescription. That Rx would designate YOU as the patient. It would technically be a federal offense for you to "transfer" YOUR prescription drug to someone else.

I carry an Epi-pen around with me (actually they come in pairs) and I've often wondered if I could/should use it on another person-in-need. The best advice seems to be to call 911, inform them of the situation, and tell them there's an Epi-pen available. Let the 911 operator decide whether or not you should use the Epi-pen.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 05-25-2016 01:46 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have no problem at all with the restaurant manager being charged and convicted of manslaughter. He lied to a customer about what was in his food, assuring him it was peanut free and served it to the guy anyway. The asshole should count himself lucky he wasn't convicted of 2nd degree murder.

quote: Frank Cox
I never heard of anyone with a peanut allergy when I was a kid. Did I just lead a sheltered life, or was there really no such thing until relatively recently?
Peanut allergies are fairly common, as are other dangerous food-related allergies. We're only now more aware of them because our society is vastly better connected and has a lot more resources to learn about this kind of stuff. One of my coworkers has severe peanut allergies and has to carry an Epi-pen on him. One of my friends has a grown daughter with several serious food allergies. Peanuts are definitely a no-go with her. For her, bananas are even worse. I'm sure lots of people were dying of anaphylaxis from peanut exposure 40 years ago. Unfortunately such stories didn't make the news often at all back then.

quote: Justin Hamaker
Knowing that Thai food commonly has nuts, I would think someone with this type of allergy would stay clear because there is such a high risk of cross contamination. I am not at all unsympathetic to people with severe food allergies, I just don't know that it's fair or reasonable for placing such a large burden on others who may not understand the specific needs of the individual.
In this case I think the victims who died or were hospitalized were visiting Indian restaurants. Anyone with dangerous food allergies does need to be well aware about which kinds of foods should be avoided. Unfortunately peanut oil is used in all kinds of foods found in restaurants and grocery stores. Good quality refined peanut oils typically don't have any of the stuff that causes an allergic response. But cold pressed peanut oil will be very dangerous to anyone with a peanut allergy.

Nevertheless, in the case that happened in the UK, a restaurant manager lied to a customer just so he could make the sale rather than risk the customer leaving and going to a different restaurant. The lie got the customer killed.

quote: Leo Enticknap
A few weeks ago a pic was doing the rounds of the net (sorry - just tried to find it on Google Images, without any luck) of a handwritten notice in the window of a Chinese restaurant in a not very upscale part of Oakland. It read: "We use gluten and MSG in all of our dishes. If any of you liberal pussies don't like that, go eat some place else!" I guess anyone who eats there can't say they weren't warned...
I don't have any food allergies (other than I find cottage cheese absolutely revolting and will not eat it). I'm not sure what the problem is with MSG. Gluten is only a concern for people with Celiac disease; it's blown way out of proportion for everyone else. Nevertheless, I think any restaurant posting a sign like that is just asking to lose business.

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