UK Restaurateur Stands Trial For Manslaughter Over Deadly Peanut Curry

In recent years, self-labeling as food intolerant has been an increasing trend. As a result, electing to eliminate certain foods from one's diet — for weight-related reasons, health concerns, or both — has become more and more common.

Consequently, people have demonstrated a tendency to conflate the terms intolerance, allergy and sensitivity when discussing food-related reactions. However, the terms are not the same.

According to Time, "An intolerance is an inability to properly digest or absorb specific foods or nutrients" and tends to be "dose dependent" — the more you indulge in a food of which you are intolerant, the worse your gastrointestinal stress will be.

Food allergies, however, involve a systemic immune response; if you are allergic to a food, you only need to take a small bite before your body produces antibodies that attack what it views as harmful proteins in the offending food.

This response can sometimes be life-threatening, as in the case of Paul Wilson, 38, who was found dead at his home after suffering a severe allergic reaction to a takeout curry from The Indian Garden made with a ground nut mix which contained peanuts. Wilson allegedly requested that his meal be peanut-free.

The UK restaurateur Mohammed Zaman is currently on trial accused of Wilson’s manslaughter after he adopted a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk” and “put profit before safety” at his restaurants, according to court testimony, reports the Yorkshire Post.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the court that Zaman had changed from using almond powder to a cheaper groundnut powder, containing peanuts. Despite changing the ingredient in June 2013 and despite a warning from his supplier, Zaman did not disclose to customers that he was using peanuts in his ingredients.

Additionally, the ultimately lethal takeaway package containing Wilson’s last meal allegedly had “no nuts” written on top of it, reports the Post.

Wilson was not the only person to require hospital attention after eating at Zaman’s establishment. Mere weeks before Wilson’s death, a 17-year-old girl ate at another one of Zaman’s restaurants, and later was treated for a reaction caused by — you guessed it — undisclosed peanuts in her meal.

She was assured by the staff that her meal was peanut-free, according to the Post.

“Mohammed Zaman received numerous warnings that he was putting his customers’ health, and potentially their lives, at risk,” prosecutor Wright told the court, as reported by the Post.

“Tragically for Paul Wilson, Mohammed Zaman took none of those opportunities and ignored all of the warnings he was given. ... Time and again he ignored the danger and did not protect his customers. The evidence will establish that Mohammed Zaman put profit before safety and that he cut corners at every turn.”

Zaman has plead not guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and six food safety offenses.

The trial is ongoing, and expected to last three weeks, according to Vice. 

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