Wales

Allergic reaction to tzatziki sees Ebbw Vale firm fined

The dip Image copyright Caerphilly council trading standards
Image caption The tzatziki dip did not list egg as an ingredient

A woman suffered a "potentially fatal" allergic reaction after a food company mistakenly put egg in a pot of tzatziki.

Zorba Delicacies pleaded guilty to three food safety charges at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court.

Hayley Lancaster suffered anaphylaxis after buying the dip from Morrisons in Caerphilly in February 2018.

The Ebbw Vale-based company was fined £93,000 following a prosecution by Caerphilly Trading Standards.

The three charges relate to the product being unsafe, not of the "nature demanded by the purchaser" and the company providing documents with false or misleading information.

The court heard Miss Lancaster had been diagnosed with an egg and nut allergy at a young age.

Image caption Hayley Lancaster was diagnosed with an egg and nut allergy when she was a child

After eating a small amount of the dip she immediately showed signs of a reaction - her airway began to close and she felt nauseous.

Prosecution barrister Matthew Roberts said if she had not had her Epipen, it "could have been potentially fatal".

Caerphilly council's Trading Standards was informed and tested the pot bought by Miss Lancaster and another pot bought from the same Morrisons store.

Both were found to contain levels of egg protein, which was not listed on the label or in the company's recipe.

The court was told about relevant food hygiene practices, including swabbing for allergens and a clean-down between products, but there was "no evidence" these took place on the day the dip was made.

The company said a dip of beetroot, mint and yogurt, which contained egg, had been produced on the line before and had contaminated the tzatziki.

Image caption The company employs 490 people and has a turnover of about £50m a year

Defence barrister Carl Harrison said Zorba Delicacies sincerely regretted the incident and offered Miss Lancaster a "full and unreserved apology".

He said changes had been put in place since the incident and products with no allergens were now made at the start of the day.

District Judge Martin Brown fined the company £93,000 and ordered it to pay a surcharge of £120 and prosecution costs of about £14,700.

Speaking after the case, Tim Keohane, senior Trading Standards officer for the council, said: "It is a serious fine which only goes to show the seriousness of the offence and how important it is for food manufacturers and retailers to pay attention to allergens in the food that they serve to customers."

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