10:57, November 07 78 0 theguardian.com

2018-11-07 10:57:05
Takeaway workers jailed over nut allergy death

Two takeaway workers have been jailed for the manslaughter of a teenager, who died after eating one of their meals.

Megan Lee, who was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at the age of eight, suffered an allergic reaction after eating food she and a friend had ordered online from the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire.

After consuming the seekh kebab and naan on 30 December 2016, the 15-year-old suffered irreversible brain damage and died on 1 January 2017.

On Wednesday, the takeaway’s owner, Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and the manager, Harun Rashid, 38, were sentenced to two and three years in jail. Last month, a jury at Manchester crown court found the pair guilty of unlawfully killing Lee by reason of gross negligence.

The court heard how Lee and her friend had bought the food via Just Eat, and had written on the order form that it should not include prawns or nuts. The delivered meal was later found to have a “widespread presence” of the peanut protein.

Local trading standards and environmental health officers inspected the takeaway on 6 January and closed it immediately after finding a “litany of failings” in the kitchen, including poor hygiene and no records of ingredients kept.

Sentencing the pair, Mrs Justice Yip told the workers that Lee was responsible enough to highlight her allergies when placing the order, but “sadly the same responsibility was not at your end”.

“The Royal Spice had no systems or processes to manage allergen control. The menu contained no information about allergens. No record was kept of the ingredients used in dishes,” she said.

“It is hoped that the message is heard that those who fail to take proper care in the supply of food to the public will face significant custodial sentences if a death results.

“Like Mr and Mrs Lee, I hope that this tragic case adds to the growing awareness in the food industry of what can happen if allergies are not taken seriously. Those who fail to heed the warnings and who continue to flout food safety regulations may find the courts taking a harsher view in the future.”

Rashid, from Haslingden, who had claimed he was a delivery driver at the restaurant, was also found guilty of failing to discharge a general duty of employers, and of failing to put in place permanent procedures relating to food safety regulations. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Kuddus, from Blackburn, had already pleaded guilty to the two charges on behalf of himself and the Royal Spice Takeaway Ltd. He was sentenced to two years.

In a statement read outside the court following the verdicts last month, Megan’s parents, Adam and Gemma Lee, said: “It breaks our hearts that Megan didn’t get the chance to sit her GCSE exams, something she had worked so incredibly hard for, to celebrate her 16th birthday or go to the school prom with her friends.”

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