The UK’s Food Standards Agency has welcomed the manslaughter conviction of two men after a teenage girl died due to an allergic reaction to a takeaway meal.
Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and Harun Rashid, 38, were jailed at Manchester Crown Court. Kuddus was jailed for two years and Rashid for three years. The pair were found guilty this past month.
On Dec. 30, 2016, Megan Lee fell ill after eating food with peanuts from the Royal Spice Indian takeaway in Hyndburn. The 15-year-old girl was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital after an apparent allergic reaction. She died on Jan. 1, 2017. A post mortem examination showed she died from asthma due to a nut allergy. The takeaway restaurant is now trading under new ownership.
The FSA issued a statement describing the convictions as a clear message to food businesses of the consequences of not providing accurate allergen information. Detective chief inspector Mark Vaughton, of Lancashire Police, said Megan’s death was the consequence of the conduct of the two men.
“As owner and operator, Kuddus and Rashid each owed a duty of care to the public. The defendants gave little thought to the consequences of their actions. They showed a blatant disregard for customer safety, hazard control, food safety and hygiene. Megan’s death was a tragedy waiting to happen,” Vaughton said.
During the sentencing hearing, Mrs Justice Yip said she hoped “the message is heard” and that food suppliers who fail to take proper care “will face significant custodial sentences if a death results”.
“Neither of you actually foresaw the death of anyone. It never occurred to you that you would be responsible for the death of a young girl. You must now live with the guilt of what you have done and the suffering you have caused Megan’s family and to your own families,” Yip told Kuddus and Rashid
Lynne Regent, Anaphylaxis Campaign chief executive, said food firms must learn from the case.
“We will continue to work with the food industry to highlight how vital it is that people living with severe allergies are provided with food that is safe for them to eat. It is extremely important that food companies learn from this tragic incident and the implications of getting it wrong,” Regent said.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is a UK charity that supports those at risk of severe allergies and anaphylaxis.
After the verdicts in October, a statement from Megan’s family said they hoped the result was a warning to other businesses to learn from the incident and improve standards.
“We urge all food businesses to improve the standard of food safety and to take allergies seriously. Trading Standards and Environmental Health are there to help. Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives,” the family said.
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