"This is an unsafe level for someone allergic to milk."
A takeaway owner was fined £2,250 after selling customers a ‘milk-free’ curry which had been soaked in a yoghurt marinade.
Anwar Hussain, aged 46, Oldham, was branded a danger to diners after it was discovered his ‘milk-free’ chicken tikka could prove fatal to lactose-intolerant people.
Hussain runs the Vindaloo Cuisine in Failsworth, near Oldham.
He got his chef to make the £3.10 dish with Indian dahi even though it is a fermented milk product and can cause severe or even fatal allergic reactions.
Undercover environmental health inspectors who posed as customers caught Hussain in January 2019.
They had ordered the meal and insisted that it should not contain any milk products as they were allergic to it.
Tests revealed that one portion had 67.5mg of milk product per kilogram. Inspectors concluded that it was “unsafe” for those with lactose-type intolerances.
When questioned, the takeaway owner claimed that he and his chef did not know yoghurt contained milk.
At Tameside Magistrates Court, Hussain admitted one charge of selling food injurious to health under the Food Safety Act 1990.
Sumayya Rawat, prosecuting for Oldham Council, said:
“Environmental Health Officers visited his restaurant, obtained an order for chicken tikka and asked for it to be milk-free.
“On receipt, the order was sent for an analysis for a protein found in milk, and 67.5mg to the kilo of that protein was found. This is an unsafe level for someone allergic to milk.
“On 6 February 2019, an Environmental Health Officer ordered three chicken tikkas over the phone and said it shouldn’t contain any milk product as they were allergic to milk.
“The officer drove to the takeaway to pay for and check the order. The defendant told them it had no milk in and they agreed to take it. But when a sample was taken the tikka was found to have yoghurt product in it.
“The defendant later said neither he nor his chef realised yoghurt was made from and contained milk but that he did now.
“He said he had not carried out any allergy training, which was very concerning, and he was told to do that immediately.
“The defendant pleaded guilty to these offences at the earliest opportunity and has no previous convictions.
“But someone who runs a food business and who is a chef should know yoghurt contains milk product.”
Hussain was fined £2,250 plus £916 in costs and surcharges. He has to pay the money at a rate of £200 a month.
Through a Bengali interpreter, Hussain said:
“I have taken allergy training and I do hope nothing like this ever happens in the future. I have a certificate for the training I have taken but it is at home.
“Business is very difficult because of the pandemic, it is difficult to survive and we have been suffering a lot.
“I have five children to provide for and a £400 a month mortgage to pay off. I can’t afford £200 a month.”
JP Kathleen Lees told the takeaway owner: “These sums of money must be paid within 18 months and there is no way around it. You are going to have to ask friends and family to help you.”
Afterwards, Labour Councillor Barbara Brownridge, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Culture, said:
“Oldham Council is committed to dealing with serious lapses in following food regulations, especially where the safety of residents is put at risk.
“We will not hesitate to take action. Business owners who run food establishments must show that they understand and comply with food regulations, especially when it comes to allergies.
“Where they fail we don’t hesitate to make sure they face the consequences.”