2 at Takeout Restaurant in U.K. Are Convicted of Manslaughter in Nut Allergy Death

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LONDON — The owner of a take-away restaurant and a deliveryman in Britain have been found guilty of manslaughter for delivering food to a teenage girl who died from the effects of a peanut allergy.

The teenager, Megan Lee, who was 15 at a time, suffered a reaction after ordering from her local takeout in Lancashire, in northern England, in late 2016, according to local news reports.

She suffered irreversible brain damage after the allergy attack and died on Jan. 1, 2017.

On Friday, a jury at Manchester Crown Court found two men, Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and Harun Rashid, 38, guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence in Ms. Lee’s death. Court reports said that Mr. Kuddus had been the owner of the restaurant, and Mr. Rashid the deliveryman.

According to the prosecution, the restaurant, the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, had no systems or conditions in place to protect customers with allergies.

“Their manifest failures and complete disregard for the safety of customers was astonishing,” Karen Tonge of the Crown Prosecution Service told the British network ITV after the trial.

Ms. Lee knew about her allergy, and her friend had included a warning with the food order, the court was told. Still, an investigation found “widespread presence” of peanut protein in the meal, which included an onion bhaji, a seekh kebab and a Peshwari naan.

Speaking outside the court on Friday, Ms. Lee’s father, Adam, told reporters, “We urge all food businesses to improve their standards in food safety and take allergies seriously.”

“Do not guess, do not play ignorant; do not play Russian roulette with precious lives,” he added.

The conviction comes amid increased scrutiny about food allergies and product labeling after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who had a severe allergy to sesame seeds, collapsed and died in July 2016 after eating a Pret a Manger sandwich while on her way to a vacation in France with her father.

The artichoke, olives and tapenade baguette that she ate had sesame seeds baked into its dough but did not say so on the label.

An inquest at the West London Coroner’s Court found the labeling of the sandwich had been “inadequate,” because it did not warn of the “hidden” sesame seeds.

The British sandwich chain was not found to have broken the law in that case. The company also acknowledged a second death, in Bath, England, in December 2017, of a person who had a dairy allergy and died after eating a product that was supposed to be dairy-free.

The ensuing outcry spurred the company to change its food labels.

Ms. Ednan-Laperouse’s parents are campaigning for more information to be included on a wider variety of food labels. Packaged foods in supermarkets in Britain and the European Union already carry information about allergens, but, for freshly prepared foods, takeout establishments and restaurants are required only to have the list of allergens available on request.

Michael Gove, the British secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, has pledged to change the rules on allergen labeling after meeting with Ms. Ednan-Laperouse’s parents this past week.

In a statement, he said businesses “should be doing all they can now to make sure consumers have the information they need to stay safe.”

The Royal Spice Takeaway closed for a while but has reopened under new management. Before it closed, the restaurant had a modest number of reviews, mostly generally good, on TripAdvisor.

The two men in the case, who had pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge, were released on bail pending sentencing on Nov. 7. After the verdict, the judge warned the men to expect jail time.

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