The owner of an Indian restaurant in Yorkshire, England is said to have "ignored repeated warnings" to disclose that he was using ground peanuts in his dishes, which prosecutors say ultimately led to the death of one customer.
Mohammed Zaman is currently on trial, accused of manslaughter after a customer who specifically requested a peanut-free meal fell ill and died after ingesting peanuts from the restaurant. According to the Yorkshire Post, prosecutors "told the court Zaman had swapped from using almond powder to the cheaper groundnut powder, containing peanuts, in June 2013 but, despite a warning from his supplier, did not warn customers that he was using peanut ingredients."
The Post reports that, weeks before the death of that customer, a 17-year-old girl was taken to the hospital after eating curry from another restaurant owned by Zaman. She suffered a reaction caused by a peanut allergy, despite being told by staff that her meal would not contain peanuts. Later, a trading standards officer who found a box of ground peanuts in one of Zaman's restaurant kitchens "told staff that customers in all of Zaman's restaurants must be informed they were using peanuts, the court heard."
According to prosecutors, Zaman continued serving dishes with peanuts without warning customers. In January 2014, a customer named Paul Wilson ordered takeout, specifically requesting that it to be prepared without nuts. His order — which allegedly came with "no nuts" written on the lid — did contain nuts, say prosecutors, leading to his hospitalization and eventual death. They added that Zambian "put profit before safety" and had a "cavalier attitude to risk."
According to the Telegraph, a jury also heard that Zaman was "employing illegal workers" and used ground peanuts as a cheaper alternative to almond powder. The trial is ongoing.
Peanut allergies can range from mild to much more serious and have been known to cause potentially fatal allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). In the U.S., flour contaminated with peanuts recently led to recalls at a slew of stores nationwide, including Chick-fil-A, Cinnabon, 7-Eleven, and grocery stores like Safeway and Jewel.