Disregarding health and safety rules can put your liberty, as well as the welfare of your staff and customers, in jeopardy. The owner of a restaurant that served a peanut allergy sufferer with a fatal dish found that out to his cost.

The customer had an allergy so severe that it could be triggered by mere proximity to peanuts. He took no chances and, before ordering a takeaway curry from the restaurant, sought and received confirmation that the dish contained no nuts. After eating it, however, he went into severe anaphylactic shock and died.

It later emerged that the restaurant was in serious financial difficulties and that cheap ingredients, which included peanuts, had been used in preparing the dish. Staff had been warned by a trading standards officer just a week before the fatal incident that customers must be told that their meals contained nuts. The owner was subsequently prosecuted and jailed for six years after being found guilty of manslaughter and six breaches of food safety standards.

The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal found that the evidence against the owner was overwhelming and rejected his challenge to the manslaughter conviction. Despite his previous good character, the Court was also wholly unpersuaded that his jail term was excessive. The customer had died due to gross negligence, driven by money, that had persisted for months.

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