Pembrokeshire restaurant fined over ‘gluten free’ takeaway meal

A food business operator has been fined £320 for supplying a takeaway meal that contained gluten, having said that it was a gluten free dish.

On 19th February 2020, as part of Pembrokeshire County Council’s   sampling programme, an officer visited Sao Mai Dragon takeaway and restaurant in Saundersfoot to check allergen controls.

The business had been given advice about the importance of providing accurate information about allergens as part of their previous food safety inspection.

The officer arrived to collect an order placed by telephone, during which the officer had requested a dish that would be suitable for someone suffering from a gluten allergy.

The officer was told that lots of the available dishes would be suitable, including sweet and sour chicken balls in batter. The officer asked on two additional occasions if this dish was definitely safe for someone with an allergy to gluten.

Each time she was informed that it was and that the batter was made using cornflour, not wheat flour.

A sample of the dish was sent for analysis and on 13th March 2020, the officer received a Public Analyst’s certificate stating that the meal did contain gluten.

Mr Luyen van Nguyen, the business owner, appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court in person and unrepresented on Friday, 15th January 2021.

He entered a guilty plea and stated that it was his wife who had dealt with the order.

He added that she should not have done so as she usually works in the kitchen and probably didn’t understand what was required.

He also stated that he was receiving government support since lockdown and that the business was closed.

As well as the fine, costs of £1000 were also awarded to the County Council.

After the case the Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Public Protection and Welsh Language, Cris Tomos, said: “It is absolutely vital that food businesses provide accurate information about allergens. Where they are catering for allergy sufferers this can literally be a matter of life and death.

“Anyone needing further advice can visit the County Council website or that of the Food Standards Agency, or contact us at foodsafety@pembrokeshire.gov.uk.”

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