Food supplier fined following a trading standards investigationCumbria County Council’s Trading Standards team successfully brought a case against a North-East food wholesalers, who put peanut allergy sufferers at risk in Cumbria by supplying products containing peanuts rather than almonds to two Cockermouth takeaways.
Euro Foods Ltd, from Sunderland, were today found guilty of food adulteration charges and fined a total of £18k.
The case came about when, in January 2011 Trading Standards took part in a country wide sampling project organised by the Food Standards Agency. The aim of the project was to establish if takeaway premises supplied food which contained undeclared peanuts.
Trading Standards officers visited Fiza Spice and Indian Spice, Cockermouth, and asked if the chicken tikka masala contained peanuts – which can cause a severe allergic reaction to some people – and were informed they were peanut free.
Samples of chicken tikka masala were taken from the Cumbrian takeaways and on analysis both meals were found to contain peanuts. Following a complex investigation it was established that Euro Foods Ltd had supplied groundnuts (peanuts) instead of almond powder as requested, to another wholesaler who had in turn supplied the two takeaways.
Whilst most peanut allergy sufferers can eat almonds safely, peanuts can cause severe reactions including anaphylactic shock. The mislabelling of this product potentially compromised the safety of customers.
The takeaway premises themselves had no knowledge that the product they were introducing into their recipe for chicken tikka massala was not almond powder.
Angela Jones, Trading Standards Service Manager said: "Trading Standards are satisfied that this verdict and this case highlights the importance of labelling food correctly."
“Peanuts are a cheaper food to source than almonds, and it is absolutely unacceptable that the almonds were substituted and sent to the takeaway outlets, who are not at fault. In the worst case scenario the actions of Euro Foods Ltd could have been life threatening for some people. We were lucky in this instance that no peanut allergy sufferers were affected by these incorrect supplies.”
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