A RESTAURANT and its director have been ordered to pay more than £11,000 after a customer suffered a potentially life-threatening allergic shock to an onion bhaji.

It was the second time Shahin Miah had broken food safety laws at his family-run Garden of India restaurant in Fawcett Street, York.

The customer twice told staff she couldn’t eat vegetable peppers when she rang in a takeaway order, and twice was assured she could eat its onion bhajis and chicken korma, said Craig Hassall, prosecuting.

But part way through her meal she found a green pepper in a bhaji, her throat tightened and she experienced stomach cramps and a skin rash.

In a letter her doctor said her symptoms worsened every time she suffered an allergic shock and her condition was potentially life-threatening.

“The latest experience has left her unwilling to eat out even at the houses of friends and is only comfortable eating food she has prepared herself,” said Mr Hassall, a York Crown Court.

In 2014, Miah admitted eight charges of poor food hygiene including failure to prevent raw meat from contaminating other foods at the same restaurant.

In the current case, Miah, 46, and The Garden of India (York) Ltd, both of Colwyn Road, Leeds, both admitted failure to provide food of the quality demanded by the customer.

The restaurant was fined £3,334, Miah £1,800, and together they were ordered to pay City of York Council’s £5,587.66 prosecution and investigation costs and £340 statutory surcharges.

For both defendants, Abigail Langford said Miah did have systems in place to prevent customers getting food they were allergic to but they hadn’t worked on this occasion.

“He is deeply sorry for what happened to the complainant,” she said. “He wishes to run an establishment that is well respected within the community and which people enjoy to come to.”

Mr Hassall said the customer checked ingredients on the restaurant’s menu before ringing in her order for a celebration meal with her husband and a friend on February 8.

When it arrived, some of the containers had leaked and she therefore decided not to eat food which may have been mixed with other containers.

But after eating one and a half bhajis, she felt the symptoms start and saw a green pepper in her meal.

With the help of the NHS 111 helpline, ambulance staff and medication she already had, her symptoms eased and she didn’t have to attend hospital.

Miss Langford said the waiter who took her call was new and should have passed her to Mr Miah but he didn’t, so kitchen staff didn’t know about her allergy. The judge said the restaurant didn’t have recipe cards or product cards for its food, so the system for allergy problems depended on Miah remembering what was in each item.

Miss Langford said he had gone to the customer’s house on the night of the incident and had sought advice shortly afterwards on how to avoid similar problems in the future.

Cllr Andrew Waller, deputy leader of City of York Council and executive member for environment, said: “This is a concerning case which illustrates the absolute need for businesses to recognise and act on the importance of food allergens, customers’ health and the law.

“Food businesses have a legal and moral responsibility to control allergen risks by knowing what’s in the food they serve, by avoiding cross contamination and training staff.”