THE Government is asking authorities to test imported almond products following the recent deaths of several people with nut allergies.
Concerns that almond products being imported into the UK are being adulterated with cheaper peanut substitutes has prompted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to contact local authority food inspectors and other groups to raise awareness of the problem.
Paul Wilson, 38, of Helperby, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, died at the end of January after eating a takeaway meal.
Mr Wilson, a bar manager at the Oak Tree Inn, had enjoyed an evening out with a friend before returning home with a takeaway meal he had begun to eat.
It is thought when he began to suffer anaphylactic shock he tried to reach his adrenaline autoinjector, which relaxes lung muscles, stimulates the heartbeat and helps to stop swelling around the face, but collapsed in his bathroom.
North Yorkshire Police has been working with trading standards and earlier this month arrested two men, aged 38 and 51, in connection with the incident.
While some people suffer an allergic reaction if they eat any type of nut, others can safely eat almonds grown on trees and are only affected by peanuts grown in soil.
An inquest this month into the death of a 31-year-old gardener, Derek Stephenson, from Stanhope, County Durham, heard that he had eaten a few mouthfuls of chicken tikka in September last year when he had an allergic reaction.
Mr Stephenson had been diagnosed with a nut allergy when he was four.
The FSA is understood to be contacting port officials and other agencies to test ingredients being imported for curry sauces following the deaths.
A spokeswoman said: “Adulterating any ingredients with undeclared peanuts could have potentially fatal consequences for some people.
"The FSA is working with the catering industry, local authorities, and allergy groups to raise awareness of this problem.
“We have also written to UK authorities dealing with imported foods asking them to test ground, chopped or crushed almonds for substitution with peanuts.
“We expect action to be taken against any businesses responsible for deliberately selling adulterated products.”