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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Peanuts discovered in ‘peanut-free’ curries at Cumbrian takeaways

Peanut-free curries from two Cockermouth takeaways ended up with peanuts in them after a supplier provided the wrong ingredients, a court heard.

Fiza Spice  photo
Fiza Spice takeaway, Cockermouth

Euro Foods Group Limited, of Newport, South Wales, is on trial at West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court accused of two counts of falsely advertising a chicken tikka masala meal as “peanut-free” when it actually contained them.

The court heard that Trading Standards officers had visited Fiza Spice and Indian Spice, both on South Street, Cockermouth, in January 2011 to carry out spot checks on the food.

In each restaurant, they asked if the chicken tikka masala contained peanuts – which can cause anaphylactic shock in people with peanut allergies – and were told it did not.

The officers took away the food for testing and the samples from both takeaways were found to contain peanut protein.

Almond powder from both premises was found to consist wholly or mainly of ground peanuts. It had been supplied by Euro Foods Group Limited.

Kawsor Ahmed, owner of Fiza Spice, said he was not aware that any of his dishes contained peanuts until he was told by Trading Standards.

He added that he always ordered almond powder and trusted what was supplied.

The court heard that staff at Indian Spice were also unaware of the problem. The substance used at the takeaways was actually a product called ground nut mix, made from peanuts, which are also called groundnuts.

David Travers QC, defending, asked whether the labelling of the peanut product with “ground nut” as two words could lead to it being mistaken for ground almonds.

But Singh Bhatoa, of P&B Foods Limited which sold the nut mixture to Euro Foods, said almonds were more expensive than peanuts and anyone in the industry would recognise the price difference.

The word mixture, he added, suggested the product contained peanuts from various sources. He did not think the company’s rep who dealt with Euro Foods Group Limited would have misled the firm about what it was buying.

The trial continues.

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