Takeaway Owners Charged With Manslaughter Following Teen’s Death

The owners of an Indian restaurant/takeaway have been charged with manslaughter after a 15-year-old girl died following an allergic reaction to food thought to be bought from the restaurant.

Megan Lee consumed a takeaway meal from Royal Spice in 2016 and fell ill soon after, was admitted to hospital, and died two days later on New Year’s Day.

Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 39, and Harun Rashid, 38, have been charged with manslaughter, and each face a charge of failure to discharge general health/safety duty to a person other than an employee and one count of contravening or failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene.

Following the tragic death, the Royal Spice was temporarily closed by Hyndburn Council but is now trading under new ownership.

Mike Williams, Director of UK food safety consultancy STS, said:

“We are fast approaching the 3 year anniversary of the introduction of the Food Information Regulations which require all food businesses to provide clear and accurate information to their customers regarding the allergenic ingredients in their foods, and to take steps to ensure that there is no accidental contamination of foods with unwanted allergenic ingredients. At the time of the introduction of the new rules, many businesses took significant steps to change procedures and policies and make sure their staff were appropriately trained. The case resulting in the death of Megan Lee is a terrible reminder of what can happen where due care and attention is not paid.

“The restaurant owner and his partner have been charged with two offences – one under health and safety legislation and the other under the Food Information Regulations.

“Food business owners across the country must pay attention to how allergens are stored, handled and prepared. Furthermore, making sure that information provided to consumers is accurate and up to date is essential. Remember that food manufacturers, especially in this phase of shrinkflation, may change the ingredients in their products and allergens may now be included in foods where they were not previously present. Therefore regular verification of allergen information on menus is a must.

“Many businesses are in a good place with regards to their allergen control but it is clear that others are letting this fall off their radar. Ensuring that lessons are learned from the tragic case of Megan Lee is essential and food business owners must treat allergen control as a priority and not an annoyance.”