Curry contents area cause for concern
Residents with food allergies are being urged to double check ingredients when buying takeaway meals.
And Northumberland County Council has warned it will consider prosecuting traders who break the law.
It comes after the council’s Trading Standards Service obtained worrying results about the contents of curries purchased from takeaways in the county.
During a sample programme six meals were bought from a range of Indian takeaways in the county, and officers specifically asked for a meal without peanuts.
The results from the council’s public analyst showed that in four cases peanuts were present in the food, making the food unsafe for those individuals who are allergic to them.
Nut and peanut allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. This may begin with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but then quickly worsen, leading someone to have trouble breathing, feel lightheaded, or to pass out. If it is not treated quickly, anaphylaxis can be life threatening.
An investigation into the four failures is underway and all the business involved have been notified of the sample results.
David Sayer, the council’s business compliance and public safety unit manager, admitted: “These results are very disappointing.”
He added: “We have been advising businesses about allergen safety for several years and I’m concerned that the message is not reaching everyone in the catering business.
“We have sent the test reports to the takeaways that failed and have given them further advice.
“We will now carry out investigations to find out what went wrong at each business and will consider prosecution where the evidence supports it.”
Coun John Riddle, cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience said: “There are around 2 million people living in the UK with a food allergy and around ten people in the UK die from allergic reactions to food every year due to undeclared allergenic ingredients.
“Caterers have to take issues around allergens seriously and consumers must remember to tell staff about their allergy when ordering food because even very small amounts of an allergen can lead to illness or even death in extreme cases.”
Any caterer with concerns about allergenic ingredients should visit the Food Standards Agency website at www.food.gov.uk or contact Trading Standards on 01670 623870.
Customers who have bought food that they are concerned about should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.