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Arundel House Hotel in Cambridge to pay £4,400 after serving dish with nuts to customer with allergy

A customer, known to be allergic to nuts, went into anaphylactic shock after a Cambridge hotel supplied food containing them.

The Arundel House Hotel in Cambridge have been ordered to pay £4,400 as a result of the customer's allergic reaction to a pasta dish containing nuts and peanuts, which he consumed during a family birthday.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards brought the case against the hotel after the customer made a complaint against the hotel.

Trading Standards act after customer had an allergic reaction to nuts served in a pasta dish
Trading Standards act after customer had an allergic reaction to nuts served in a pasta dish

Staff were aware two people had a severe nut allergy but the information, while recorded on the booking sheet, had not been effectively communicated to all the kitchen staff, one of which prepared a pasta dish in the normal way which included nuts and peanuts.

After realising they had consumed nuts, the victim felt unwell and was sick. Their symptoms worsened and after using their Epi-pen, an adrenaline auto-injector used to treat allergic reactions, they were taken to hospital where they were treated for anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy. It occurs when the bodies own immune system overreacts to a trigger. Symptoms can include itchy skin, hives, swelling and breathing difficulties.

Trading Standards officers found that despite knowing there was an allergy suffer attending the party, the allergen information sheet in the kitchen was not up-to-date and that the systems for communicating allergens to the kitchen was inadequate.

The seriousness of the incident and the poor controls at the time led Trading Standards to put this matter before the court under the Food Safety (England) Regulations 2013, for selling unsafe food.

The District Judge agreed that this was a serious case but recognised the corrective action, cooperation and early guilty plea made by the business.

The court ordered the company to pay a £1,500 fine, £2,000 towards the investigation costs, £150 victim surcharge and £750 in compensation to the victim

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough head of regulatory services, Peter Gell, said: “We’re pleased with this result, but are disappointed that many businesses are still not controlling allergens safely. After a number of high profile cases nationally where people have died we are still finding problems.

“The hotel co-operated fully with our Trading Standards service and their own investigation had already led to a range of improvements; but these could have been identified and put into action before a customer was hospitalised.”

The hotel had pleaded guilty to supplying unsafe food at an earlier hearing at Peterborough Magistrates' Court.

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