Peri peri chicken meal could have killed teenager

Published: 23 August 2019


A kebab shop owner and manager who could have killed a teenager when he suffered a severe allergic reaction from eating peri peri chicken and chips, have been given suspended prison sentences.

A family ordered the chicken meal and told the servers at Saqi Grill and Catering Limited about the life-threatening allergies to dairy and eggs.

They were assured there were no allergens in the meal, but the teenager went into anaphylactic shock soon after eating and had to be rushed to hospital by ambulance.

He recovered after spending time in hospital and his survival was attributed to his family’s speedy application of an epi-pen which he had been prescribed in case of an allergic reaction.

It was subsequently discovered the chicken in his meal had been marinated in yoghurt before being cooked at the Chalvey Road West take away shop.

Slough trading standards pursued a prosecution against the company, its director Akbar Ali, 43, of Thornholme Close, Leicester, and the shop manager Abdul Rauf, 42, of Ragstone Road, Slough.

Judge Kirsty Real, sitting at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday 20 August, gave each defendant an 18 week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, ordered each to a complete 120 hours of unpaid community work and pay £400 costs. The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4000 costs.

Both defendants and the company admitted a total of three counts of selling unsafe food containing allergens on 15 March, 29 October and 16 November, 2018, and a single charge, on 15 March, of incorrectly describing doner kebab meat as lamb when it also contained beef and chicken.

The court was told Slough trading standards had given detailed advice on legal compliance and food standards to the owner and manager, as well as being given the required time to make the necessary adjustments, since December 2017.

The particular area they had not complied with was the description of what meat was included in a lamb doner kebab and allergen controls, including training to the staff, and no knowledge about what allergens were in the food being sold.

Food Standards Improvement notices were issued in January 2018 and not acted upon by the business. Both defendants were interviewed and given further advice and guidance.

Test purchases on 15 March 2018 and 16 November 2018 showed that despite declaring soya and diary as allergies, both undercover officers were subsequently served food with the allergens, which were detected after laboratory testing.

The customer purchase, on 29 October 2018, resulted in hospitalisation.

Dean Cooke, a senior trading standards officer at the council, said: “This is a matter of life and death for some customers.

“Any food business must be able to tell customers what ingredients, and particularly allergenic ingredients, are present in the food that they sell.

“We are grateful for the result and that the justice system has acknowledged the seriousness of this blatant disregard for basic legal responsibilities.

“It is also welcome news to the victim’s family, who narrowly averted a potential tragedy.”

Cllr Pavitar K. Mann, cabinet member for planning and regulation said: “Families who want to eat out, whether at a restaurant or takeaway, need to be sure that their food is safe.

“This is particularly important for people with allergies whose lives are in the hands of the restaurants, directors and managers who are responsible for training their staff. Customers deserve to enjoy food safe in the knowledge that they are not going to be made ill, or that the food they enjoy could threaten their lives.

“The council’s trading standards team have done a stellar job advising and then gathering evidence against this takeaway, and the other eateries in the town should take their advice seriously.”