A company director and two managers at the PGR Restaurant in Coventry have been prosecuted and fined £25,000, after a Coventry Trading Standards investigation into the hospitalisation of a 14-year-old with a nut allergy.
The victim was taken to hospital by ambulance after being served a hot chocolate drink, that was instead made from Nutella at PGR Restaurant.
On 23 October 2019 at Coventry Magistrates Court, PGR Restaurant Ltd was fined £16,667 and ordered to pay costs of £598 plus a £120 victim surcharge.
Habibeh Pourali, 47, of Lupton Avenue, Coventry, the sole company director was fined £1661, ordered to pay costs of £598 and a £120 victim surcharge. Majed Bahgozin, 51, of Lupton Avenue, Coventry, the restaurant manager was fined £2169, ordered to pay costs of £598 and a £120 victim surcharge
Masoud Behgozin, 50, of Sidbury Road, Coventry, the restaurant day to day manager was also fined £2169 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 Regulations 2013. Habibeh Pourali also pleaded guilty to both counts on behalf of PGR restaurant.
The court was told that the mother of the boy contacted Trading Standards after the incident as she was aware that the restaurant was still serving hot chocolate that contained Nutella and was “not confident” that they were describing the drink correctly.
She stated 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 whilst various menu items were marked as containing nuts, no such disclosure was made in respect to the hot chocolate drink.
The court heard that before this incident both this restaurant, and associated business premises under the control of these individuals, had received visits and advice from the Council on the importance of proper allergen control systems and how to comply with the law.
The restaurant management cooperated 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.
Cllr 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.”