You may have seen in the news recently that the owner of a takeaway in Bath has been fined £2,880 following the death of Chloe Gilbert, aged 15, who sadly died of a severe allergic reaction on 5th March 2017 after eating a kebab purchased from the shop.
Chloe had been prescribed adrenaline auto-injectors due to a severe allergy to milk. She was shopping in Bath with a friend when she visited the Al Falafel takeaway and ordered a kebab with lettuce and chips. After feeling unwell Chloe collapsed in Southgate Shopping Centre and was unable to be revived, despite the best efforts of medical staff. An inquest found that Chloe had been exposed to yogurt in her meal and her death was recorded as accidental at an inquest at Avon Coroner’s Court on 16th June 2017.
From the media reports, we understand that the district judge confirmed in a ruling at Bath Magistrates Court on 20th June 2018 to Director of Al Falafel Takeaway Ltd, Riad Benotman; “You are not before the court for causing the death of Chloe Gilbert. Nothing I can do or say will lessen the grief for Chloe’s family. What happened was a tragic situation which I’m sure will live with them forever.”
However, during a joint investigation launched by Police and Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Trading Standards and Food Safety teams after Chloe’s tragic death, it was revealed there were no signs in the shop alerting customers to the presence of any allergens in food and none of the menus had any allergen information, which did not comply with the law. As a result, Mr Benotman was fined £800, ordered to pay £2,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £80.
Lynne Regent, Chief Executive of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, said:
“We are very grateful that after Chloe’s tragic death her family encouraged people to support the work of the Anaphylaxis Campaign and we continue to hold them in our thoughts at this difficult time.
Tragic incidents like the death of Chloe are an important reminder to everyone within the catering industry that anaphylaxis is serious, and they have an obligation to comply with the law to provide accurate allergen information. If allergy information is provided verbally, businesses must ensure that there is some sort of written signage about allergen information that is clearly visible to customers. We also recommend systems are in place in a recorded form to ensure the consistency and accuracy of information provided.
Sadly, we also know teenagers and young people are a particular at risk group. We continue to stress that it is vital that people who are living with severe food allergies draw attention to these when eating out.
We would like to thank the Police and Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Trading Standards and Food Safety team for conducting a thorough investigation after Chloe’s death. It is vital that anyone affected by food safety issues continues to report any problems to their appropriate Trading Standards or Environmental Health Officer.”
Advice for people living with food allergy
By law, food businesses selling catered food (for example in restaurants, takeaways and hotels) are required to provide information on major allergenic ingredients, either in writing and/or verbally. If information is provided verbally, the food business will need to ensure that there is some sort of written signage that is clearly visible, to indicate that allergen information is available from a member of staff. Systems should also be in place to ensure that, if requested, the information given verbally is supported in a recorded form to ensure consistency and accuracy.
You can find out more in our guide to eating out here.
Advice for the catering industry
We believe every member of your team needs some understanding of food allergy and its possible consequences and this should be incorporated into your staff training. Members of staff, who serve meals to customers, need to be able to offer accurate information about ingredients. If they are unsure of what is in a particular meal, there should be a procedure in place for finding out. There should be a designated person on duty during each shift that is able to answer questions about ingredients.
We have practical advice for the catering industry on our website here.
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