Megan Lee death: 'No control' in Lancashire restaurant at centre of allergy 'manslaughter' case, court told

A restaurant that served a fatal meal to a 15-year-old schoolgirl had "no control" over allergens in its kitchen, a jury has heard.

Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 3:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 5:56 pm
Manchester Crown Court

The Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, was closed immediately following an inspection of the premises just five days after the death of customer Megan Lee.

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Manchester Crown Court

Her condition deteriorated rapidly, though, on arriving home and she stopped breathing after she cried for help from her mother who desperately tried to revive her.

Megan went on to suffer irreversible brain damage and was pronounced dead in hospital on the morning of January 1 2017.

Her online meal order through the Just East website had the words "nuts, prawns" in the comments and notes section but Royal Spice staff allegedly paid no attention and served a meal which tests later showed contained peanut protein.

The restaurant's owner, Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and its alleged manager, Harun Rashid, 38, are on trial for her alleged manslaughter by reason of gross negligence.

Megan Lee

On Tuesday, Rachel Wilcock, principal trading standards food officer for LancashireCounty Council, told the court she inspected the Royal Spice along with environmental health colleagues on January 6 when the Union Road takeaway was still open.

Jurors previously heard inspectors were met with a "litany of failings" in the kitchen including mouse droppings and dirty pans piled up.

Jars of curry paste used in preparing the seekh kebabs carried a warning on the label that ingredients may contain peanuts and nuts, the court also heard.

Mrs Wilcock said: "On going to a business like a takeaway I would expect to see some sort of audit had taken place of allergic ingredients that are available to the customer so they can readily pass that information on.

"There did not seem to be any written procedures as to what they would do in regard to any allergic customers so I felt there was no control.

"If a business does not understand which allergens are in the food how can they know how to control them when they are in a kitchen where they can easily be transferred between dishes."

She said Rashid, who suffers a prawn allergy himself, told her staff would discuss ingredients if an allergy sufferer ordered a meal by phone but for online orders they would just not included the ingredient highlighted.

Prior to the inspection she said Rashid had agreed during a phone conservation not to serve food to people with allergies until further notice, the court heard, but during her visit noticed a shop worker taking orders was not asking any caller about allergies.

Mrs Wilcock said she was told Kuddus was the takeaway owner and Rashid was the manager but had previously owned the business himself before transferring it to Kuddus in November 2015.

Kuddus, of Belper Street, Blackburn, has admitted a count of failing to discharge a general duty of employers, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act, and another count of failing to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures in contravention of European Union food safety regulations.

He also entered guilty pleas to the same offences on behalf of Royal Spice

Takeaway Limited, trading as Royal Spice Takeaway.

Fellow Bangladeshi national Rashid, of Rudd Street, Haslingden, pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Kuddus and Rashid, who claims he was merely a delivery driver, deny manslaughter.