A CHESTER city centre bar and restaurant which served a hummus sandwich to a customer who was allergic to it has been ordered to pay over £4,300.

The customer who had eaten the sandwich as part of an afternoon tea served at Oddfellows, on Lower Bridge Street, had such a severe allergic reaction they had to be taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital, Chester Magistrates Court heard.

The customer received urgent treatment, including being given adrenalin, being put on an IV drip and given two rounds of anti-histamines.

Oddfellows Rooms Ltd pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates Court to the food safety offence, which happened on March 30, 2019, and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £500 compensation to the victim, a £170 victim surcharge and costs totalling £1,704.

The court heard that on April 4, 2019, Regulatory Services officers visited to investigate a complaint of a customer suffering a severe allergic reaction following the consumption of a sandwich served as part of an afternoon tea on March 30.

This was despite the venue being made aware the customer had food allergies including sesame.

The Company acknowledged its mistake but officers discovered a lack of allergen control in the documented food safety management document. All the finger sandwiches included in the afternoon tea, had been grouped together regardless of the different types of fillings.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders commented that trading conditions are currently appalling for everyone. The judge also took note of the financial impact of lockdowns for the company.

However, he remarked "that putting hummus in a sandwich of person allergic to it, is serious."

In response, a spokesperson for Oddfellows said: "In March 2019, we regrettably served a hummus sandwich to a sesame allergy sufferer as part of an afternoon tea.

"The mistake was one of human error. A junior chef failed to recognise sesame as a fundamental ingredient of tahini. The chef had been fully trained in allergens but had failed to retain this knowledge. An internal review resulted in the departure of the chef in question.

"Oddfellows wholeheartedly accepted responsibility for this mistake and have offered sincere apologies on behalf of our team to the customer in question, who made a full recovery by the next day.

"We have stringent policies and procedures in place which go above and beyond the Food Safety Act 1990 and Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013. Following the incident, these have been fully appraised and approved by the environmental health team.

"This incident has acted as a warning to us that awareness and education regarding allergens throughout the hospitality sector needs to be elevated.

"We have implemented further allergen training, which has been completed by every member of staff, and a systematic labelling of food and ingredients highlighting allergens.

"We cannot change this regrettable incident, but we have learnt from it."

The Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The sentence demonstrates the need for all food businesses to have robust well-documented procedures for allergen control.

"Customers need accurate information about the ingredients in each food so that they can identify allergens and make informed decisions. In this way it is clear what specific food item would be suitable for any customer with dietary requirements.

“All food businesses have a duty to serve food that is safe, the sentence sends a clear and strong message that the courts will treat such situations seriously.

"Food businesses that do not comply with the regulations and put the general public at risk will not be tolerated. Thankfully the majority of businesses operating in Cheshire West and Chester do so to a high level of compliance.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council operate a paid for advisory service for all food businesses called the ‘GET5’ scheme.

Call 01244 973486 for more information or visit the council’s website.