Top Norwich restaurant fined after customer suffers allergic reaction

A top Norwich Indian restaurant must pay more than �6000 in fines and costs after a customer suffered a serious allergic reaction to milk contained in a takeaway meal and was rushed to hospital.

The woman had told staff at the Spice Lounge in Wensum Street last September that she had an allergy to dairy products.

But 20 minutes after starting to eat the takeaway she ordered, she felt ill and was rushed to hospital.

Norfolk trading standards were called and sent off the remains of her takeaway meal for analysis. It contained a small amount of milk and was unsafe for people with allergies to dairy products.

Three months later trading standards officers made a test purchase at the restaurant, which was recently named among the top 50 curry houses in the country by The Independent.

The officers told staff they wanted meals that did not contain dairy products as they had allergies but the same product plus a rice dish also containing milk were again offered to them.

Kahlu Miah, a director of Spice Lounge who lives at the restaurant, appeared before Norwich magistrates yesterday , and pleaded guilty individually and on behalf of the company, to three charges of contravening European food regulations.

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Magistrates fined Miah and Spice Lounge in total �1800 plus a �30 victim surcharge, and ordered him to pay the full prosecution costs of �4229.70, a total bill of �6059.70, which he must pay in six months.

Prosecuting, Catherine Girvan said: 'A young lady with a very serious dairy allergy visited the restaurant with her partner on September 24 last year. She explained her dietary needs to a waiter, who referred her to Mr Miah, the manager.

'She told Miah that she could not eat any dairy products, and Miah went through the menu, told her what dishes were suitable.'

Miah admitted in interview that there was no training policy in place for staff regards allergies.

In mitigation, Richard Wood said his client had been in the business for about 30 years. He said: 'He has had similar occasions to this when very small amounts of dairy products have been included in dishes given to people with allergies, none of whom had reacted in this way.

'The lamb served to the customer contained just 13.5mg dairy products in 250g.

'The restaurant has a very good reputation in the city. Mr Miah regrets causing a customer pain and upset. Since then he has provided staff with more training on allergies and has reprinted menus to include details of dairy products, etc.'