The owner of an Indian sweets shop has spoken of his ‘deep regret’ after a student almost died eating a cake he said was ‘peanut free.’
Preethi Koshy, 22, suffered a severe allergic reaction after taking one mouthful of marble cake, which was in fact 55 per cent made up of peanuts, and spent the next three days on a life-support machine.
When her mother bought the cake at a food fair and asked if it contained peanuts, stall-holder Kamal Parekh, of RK Sweets, St Paul’s Road, Deepdale, Preston, said it did not.
RK Sweets was fined £7,500 after admitting selling food that was not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser under the Food Safety Act 1990.
Mr Parekh said: “We deeply regret the incident. Our company has been operating for 26 years and a similar incident has never taken place previously. Neither have we previously received any allergen related complaints.
“Our company takes food safety very seriously and we have gone to considerable lengths to try to ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again.”
Miss Koshy ate the cake after her mother bought it from an Indian food festival at Hull City Hall on April 2 last year.
David Hercock, prosecuting at Hull Crown Court, said: “Within seconds, she could feel her throat constricting and recognised it as anaphylactic shock.”
Miss Koshy lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest on the way to hospital. She spent eight days in intensive care and in a high-dependency unit. She has since made a full recovery.
She said: “The fine does not hit home hard enough and doesn’t reflect how close I was to losing my life - they passively told my mum there were no peanuts in it, without thinking how serious the outcome could have been.”
The court heard Mr Parekh failed to attend an interview arranged by trading standards officers and did not respond to questions they sent by post.
Mr Hercock said RK Sweets did not have suitable procedures in place to stop contamination.
Hull’s trading standards manager Chris Wilson said: “As the owner of a small food manufacturing business, Mr Parekh would have been fully aware of the allergen risk posed by peanuts.
“For him to describe a product containing more than 50 per cent peanut as being peanut free is beyond belief.”