PGR restaurant in Coventry and its management team have been fined more than £25,000 after serving a Nutella hot chocolate to a teenager with a nut allergy, who was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Last week, Coventry Magistrates Court heard the boy’s mother state that she had contacted the restaurant by phone and had spoken to a manager to request he change the menu/ingredients before something even more serious happened. However, she did not believe the restaurant was taking the matter seriously so contacted Trading Standards.
In response to the allegation, officers made an unannounced visit to the restaurant and ordered a hot chocolate drink and then submitted it for analysis.
It was noted that while various menu items were marked as containing nuts, no such disclosure was made in respect to the hot chocolate drink. The report received indicated that the hot chocolate sample contained 17.8mg of hazelnut protein. The reference dose to elicit a reaction in 1% of hazelnut allergy sufferers is 0.1mg.
The restaurant management co-operated fully with the investigation and admitted their responsibility in regard to the matter, blaming a breakdown in communication for failure to take remedial action between the incident and the subsequent Trading Standards’ visit.
On 23 October 2019 at Coventry Magistrates Court, PGR Restaurant was fined £16,667 and ordered to pay costs of £598 plus a £120 victim surcharge. Habibeh Pourali, the sole company director, was fined £1,661 and ordered to pay costs of £598 and a £120 victim surcharge.
Restaurant manager Majed Bahgozin was fined £2,169 and ordered to pay costs of £598 and a £120 victim surcharge. Another manager, Masoud Behgozin, was fined £2,169 and ordered to pay costs of £598 and a £120 victim surcharge.
All three individuals pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. Pourali also pleaded guilty to both counts on behalf of PGR restaurant.
Councillor Christine Thomas, chair of the City Council’s licensing and regulatory committee said: “Consumers should rightly expect that when they go out to eat, the food they are served is safe and described correctly. We are all aware of the tragic circumstances that can occur if someone has a severe food allergy.
“This case highlights how critically important it is that food business operators take their responsibilities seriously.”