Are You Catering for Food Safety Allergies?

A pub in Leighton Buzzard has been fined £24,000 plus a victim surcharge of £120 after a young customer, who has a serious allergy to eggs, went into anaphylactic shock after eating a dessert that he was told was egg-free.
During the incident, which occurred in April 2016, the mother of the 11-year-old boy had asked the pub staff to recommend a dessert with no egg in it. When a waitress suggested a baked Alaska, the mother asked her to double-check, and then also consulted the manager, who confirmed that he believed the dish would be safe to eat. The boy then suffered a severe allergic reaction and had to be taken to hospital.

Food safety officers from Central Bedfordshire Council, who inspected the pub after the incident, found that there were issues with how allergens were reported in lists of ingredients. The pub’s parent company was informed of these issues in November 2015, but did not take any action until February of the next year, and did not ensure that individual pubs received up-to-date allergen information.

The pub pleaded guilty to a charge under the 1990 Food Safety Act, and will also pay court costs after they are agreed. A spokesperson for the parent company apologised for the incident and has said that they are actively working to improve their food safety processes.

Food businesses, from mobile caterers to pubs and restaurants, have a legal obligation to provide information about allergens in the food they serve. Failure to do so can result in prosecution, and if they are found guilty, could lead to steep fines similar to the one that this pub chain now has to pay.

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