7th November 2018
Two takeaway workers have been given prison sentences following the death of 15-year-old Megan Lee, who had suffered an allergic reaction to nuts.
News of the sentencing comes amidst a heightened focus on allergen awareness within the industry. Royal Spice owner Mohammed Abdul Kuddus (40), and manager Harun Rashid (38), were found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence in October following the death of the teenager in 2016. Now the two have been jailed – with Kuddus receiving a two-year prison sentence and Rashid receiving three years. Lee died after eating food from the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, in 30 2016. Ordering online, a friend of Lee’s had written “prawns, nuts” in the allergies section, but the food that arrived was later found to have had a “widespread presence” of peanut protein.
Mrs Justice Yip told the pair that Megan was responsible enough to highlight her allergies when placing the order but “sadly the same responsibility was not at your end”.
She said the takeaway had no kitchen systems or processes to manage allergen control.
“The menu contained no information about allergens. No record was kept of the ingredients used in dishes. In short, it appears that no-one at the takeaway had any way of knowing what allergens were in the food supplied.”
The court heard there was a “litany of failings” in the kitchen, including the absence of any records about ingredients and poor hygiene practise.
Megan died on New Year’s Day 2017, having suffered irreversible brain damage caused by an asthma attack.
After the pair were charged, Lee’s family expressed their hope that the industry would see her death, and the resulting sentence, as a “warning”.
Megan’s father Adam Lee said: “Whilst we may have received some justice . . . we live in hope that today’s result is a warning to other food businesses operating in such a deplorable and ignorant manner to learn from this and improve their standards with immediate effect.”
Rashid was also found guilty 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. Kuddus had already pleaded guilty to those two charges on behalf of himself and Royal Spice.
Karen Tonge, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The law required Kuddus and Rashid to take reasonable steps to ensure customer safety and to provide food that was not harmful. Their manifest failures and complete disregard for the safety of customers was astonishing. No appropriate systems or conditions were in place to protect Megan or any customer with a known allergy.”