THE owner of an Indian takeaway which caused an 11-year-old boy with a peanut allergy to become ill has been spared a prison sentence.

Lakekul Islam, who ran Balti Cottage in Winsford, was given a community order for 12 months instead of custody and fined £1,000 at Chester Crown Court today after pleading guilty to selling unsafe food.

The 60-year-old was also fined £500 for having live German cockroaches in the main cooking and preparation areas of the restaurant on Over Square and failing to keep the premises clean.

Winsford Guardian:

Food hygiene inspectors discovered live German cockroaches in the main cooking and preparation areas

Mr Quick, from Winsford, ordered a takeaway meal by telephone for his wife and two children on September 2, last year, the court heard.

Ryan Rothwell, prosecuting, said: "Mr Quick specifically checked that there were no peanuts in the chicken tikka as his 11-year-old son Joshua has a peanut allergy. He was assured that it was OK."

Winsford Guardian:

Joshua Quick, 11, who has a peanut allergy became ill after eating a chicken tikka sold by Balti Cottage takeaway on Over Square in Winsford

Joshua's mum double checked when she collected the food that the dishes did not contain any peanuts and took the meal home.

"Within half an hour, Joshua began twitching, his lips swelled, his throat was sore and he felt queasy," said Mr Rothwell. Joshua was sick three times.

Sentencing Islam, Judge Simon Berkson said: "It could potentially have had serious effects for that boy. His parents must have become frantic with fear about what might happen. Joshua had such a quick reaction.

Winsford Guardian:

Balti Cottage restaurant voluntarily closed with immediate affect until it had undergone a deep clean and action had been taken to eradicate the presence of cockroaches

"When the takeaway was picked up by Joshua's mum she checked again that there would be no trace of peanuts in the dish, such was the concern for her son's health.

"She was assured that there were no peanuts. This assurance made by your staff was false because Joshua became v ery ill after eating some of the chicken tikka masala. He was ill for all of that night."

His parents kept the meal and tests later revealed that it contained peanuts.

Environmental health officers from Cheshire West and Chester Council visited the takeaway the following day and found cockroaches and dirty premises.

Winsford Guardian:

Inspectors found dirt and grime in the restaurant kitchen of Balti Cottage

The business voluntarily closed with immediate effect until it had undergone a deep clean and action had been taken to eradicate the presence of cockroaches.

The restaurant was allowed to re-open on September 10 after officers were satisfied there was no risk to health.

Hygiene inspectors spoke to restaurant manager Mr Udden who said the only nuts they had were almonds and cashews.

However, evidence was found on invoices that 10 kilos of peanut powder had been delivered.

The business had received two deliveries containing peanut powder before the incident and then after the inspectors' visit a change to almond powder.

A sample of the chicken massala meal was sent for analysis and found to contain peanut.

A sample of one of the ingredients described to the investigating officers as 'almond flour' also contained peanut.

Almond powder used to make the chicken tikka did not contain peanuts, the court heard.

Islam ordered all the food for the restaurant, the hearing was told.

Judge Berksen said: "There is no evidence of deliberate contamination of the almond powder with any peanuts. But staff were incapable of keeping peanuts out of other dishes causing the potential of actual risk to the health of people ordering food from the takeaway.

"It is this in my judgement that makes this a serious case."

Joshua carries an auto injector to administer immediate medication to treat his allergic reaction, the court heard.

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Joshua's mum sat at the back of court during the hearing.

Defending, Khadim Al'Hassain said Islam had run the takeaway for 24 years without any problems but due to a serious heart condition he had appointed a manager.

He said: "This has been a very successful and thriving business but it took a nosedive.The business is not making any money at present. In hindsight, the appointment should never had been made. The manager was subsequently fired."

Islam, of Tabley Grove, Longsight in Manchester, supported the community, he said and made donations to local charities.

"This could have been a very serious incident," he added. "Fortunately, it wasn't. He pleaded guilty at the outset and accepts he is ultimately responsible as the owner and should have taken more of a hands-on approach."

Islam was ordered to undertake 20 days rehabilitation and pay £1,189 costs plus a victim surcharge.

Afterwards, the council’s director of place 0perations, Maria Byrne said: “This sentence demonstrates the extreme nature of the offences. Regulatory Services officers discovered flagrant breaches of food safety regulations regarding the presence of cockroaches and service of a meal containing peanut.

“This business put the lives of its customers at risk and it was extremely fortunate that the young boy in this case did not suffer more serious consequences.

“All food businesses have a duty to serve food that is safe and should they fail it is totally unacceptable and the council has a duty to protect the health of the general public.

"In this case, officers discovered a flagrant disregard to the issue of allergens that posed a significant risk to the public. 

“Food businesses that do not comply with the regulations and put the general public at risk will not be tolerated. Thankfully the majority of business operating in Cheshire West and Chester operate to a high level of compliance.

“Officers within our regulatory services team work proactively to help business owners comply with legislation and meet hygiene standards and food safety.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council operate a paid for advisory service for all food businesses called the ‘GET5’ scheme. For more information,  call 01244 973486 or visit the council’s website.

December 13, 2019 is the fifth anniversary of the introduction of legislation regarding allergens.

This require allergenic information to be provided for all foods.

There have been some recent very high profile cases, unfortunately some involving the tragic death of members of the public with allergies. It is a subject that is not new to the catering trade and local businesses.