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Food Safety Tragedy Highlights Need for More Rigorous Standards

2016-05-24 11:00:00 +0100 by Miriam Heale


Food Safety Standards have come into sharp focus this week, with the imprisonment of the owner of an Indian takeaway in North Yorkshire.  Mohammed Zaman has been found guilty of manslaughter after a customer with a nut allergy died after being served a meal containing ground peanuts.  Zaman has been sentenced for six years.

Since December 2014, takeaways and restaurants have been required by law to let customers know if any of the 14 most dangerous allergens are ingredients in their food.  Paul Wilson, who suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating a meal from Zaman's restaurant, died before the change in the law, but the trial heard he had flagged up his peanut allergy to the restaurant and his meal had been labelled as "nut free".

This blatant disregard for food safety flags up the importance of vigilance across all aspects of the food manufacturing process. 

There has been a 615 percent increase in hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in 20 years, 1992-2012 and in the last 10 years, the cases of food allergies have doubled and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions has increased 7-fold.

Other issues, such as mislabelled ingredients, the wrong type of meat (remember horsemeat lasagne?) and poor food hygiene have all been in the news and maybe it is time for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UK Government to put into law more measures to monitor food safety.

Green hygiene stickers are frequently seen on the front of restaurant or takeaway businesses in the UK, but it is only in Wales where they have to be displayed by law.  Council cuts have led to fewer health and safety inspections; according to the BBC's 5 Live Investigates programme, almost 47,000 fewer inspections were carried out in the UK in 2014 than in 2003.

Food safety is vital across the restaurant trade, food manufacturing, retail and it is expected that the FSA will be approaching the government for the mandatory display of ratings across England.


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