Restaurant flouted food safety rules

The Rivaj in Wrightington
The Rivaj in Wrightington

A local restaurant put lives at risk by not observing strict food allergy codes.

A probe was launched after a customer of the Rivaj of India in Wrightington,reported suffering an alleged allergic reaction to a meal in September 2016, though it remains unproven.

Preston magistrates heard that in November that year Lancashire trading standards received a referral from West Lancs environmental health officers which had visited the takeaway in October 2016 to discuss the incident and sent an advisory letter.

A month later an officer made a test purchase of a chicken korma, chicken tikka malai masala and a lamb tikka masala via the Just Eat website, which underwent laboratory tests and were all found to contain peanut protein.

This was despite the fact that in the comments box on the website she had included the statement: “I have a nut allergy. Please can you make sure none of the food contains nuts.”

And when the officer went to collect the order, the staff made a point of double-checking the order before making it up because of what she said.

Once the meals had been handeded over, the officer made 49-year-old owner Badrul Alom aware the curries were formal samples and would be submitted for analysis.

This concluded all three meals contained peanut protein and was therefore unsafe for a person allergic to peanuts.

Alom was informed of the results and a follow-up visit was arranged in February 2017 when a further sample was taken of the chicken korma dish, a number of the dry spice and powder ingredients which officers found had been decanted out of their packaging and into storage tins kept in the room behind the restaurant’s kitchen.

Peanut protein was later found in the korma and some of the dry ingredients.

Alom, of Chapel Street, Hyde, Cheshire, was interviewed and confirmed he had run the restaurant and takeaway for five years under the names of Standish Indian and Rivaj.

He is the partner of a restaurant in Clayton Brook, near Chorley, and director of another eatery in Bolton.

He told officers he has changed the way dry ingredients are now decanted following trading standards advice.

He confirmed they speak to the customer before making up an order received through the Just Eat website if they mention allergies.

The firm now identifies allergen-free meals’ being delivered as a takeaway and they ask customers to sign a disclaimer before they serve a nut free meal in the restaurant or deliver a nut free takeaway.

Prosecuting, Claire Box told justices: “When consumers order specific food items they should be able to expect and to receive that product.

“This wasn’t the case in this matter as the actual product did not match the specific request made by the purchaser.

“But what makes this case particularly of concern is the fact that the issue of allergens was raised with the restaurant by Environmental Health in November 2016 before Trading Standards’ involvement, and then also specifically mentioned by the test purchaser when the food order was made in December 2016.

“Yet still the defendant failed to take the necessary steps to ensure the finished product was nut free.

“These failures could have had a much more serious conclusion if a person with a peanut allergy had then consumed the food.”

Alom was fined £3,000, must pay a £100 surcharge and £1,625.62 costs after he pleaded guilty to three food safety offences and three of supplying dishes not being of the nature demanded by the purchaser.

The chairman of the bench said they considered it a “very serious matter with the potential harm that could have been caused.”