15-year-old British schoolgirl suffers fatal allergic reaction after eating takeaway "infested" with rat droppings
A 15-year-old schoolgirl was killed by kebab after she unknowingly ate a takeaway meal containing peanuts and suffered a horror allergic reaction, a jury has heard
A court heard today that a 15-year-old girl died from a serious allergic reaction after eating food from an Indian takeaway which was apparently so dirty that it was infested with rat droppings. Megan Lee ordered a seekh kebab, onion bhaji, and Peshawari naan bread from a takeaway, using the takeaway app Just Eat, and began fighting for breath immediately after consuming the food. She was immediately rushed to the hospital, where she died two days later.
While the food Megan consumed did not usually contain nuts, traces of the same were found in her food. The restaurant kitchen, on the other hand, was branded a "hazard to public health," a jury heard. While carrying out hygiene tests at the Royal Spice in Oswaldtwistle, Lancs (UK), investigators found dirty and stained kitchen appliances and surfaces. They also found that the staff was untrained in dealing with food that could cause allergic reactions. The takeaway was eventually shut down after samples showed "widespread presence" of peanut proteins across the kitchen, Daily Mail reports.
Megan's death on New Year's day 2017 led to the arrest of 40-year-old Mohammed Abdul Kuddus (owner) and 39-year-old Harun Rashid, his delivery driver. The duo faces charges of manslaughter after the incident. The victim, who was due to sit for her mock GCSEs at high school, was diagnosed with a nut allergy at the tender age of eight, the Manchester Crown Court heard.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said: ''It meant she was allergic to peanuts and various common inhalant allergens such as grass pollens, house dust. But Megan and her family understood her allergies to be mild although they generally avoided processed foods to be sure about what they were eating. She was never prescribed an EpiPen and there was no care plan in place at the school for her allergies and any reasons that there ought to be. If Megan suffered an allergy, over the counter medications had been administered successfully. The last occasion prior to these events when she had suffered any allergic reactions was in December 2015 when she had been given a short course of steroids because of an insect bite."
Megan was at a friend's home on December 30 revising for their upcoming exams when she ordered the takeaway meal. Wright added: "During the evening, they were hungry and consulted the JustEat website and with the consultation of her friend's father, they placed an order. In respect of potential allergenic content, the menu simply bore the words 'think allergy' and 'please ask a member of staff' - but there was no warning that any of these dishes contained nuts."
He added, "In the online order form, there was a box named comments and Megan put 'prawns, nuts' in the box. The entry could have been more specific you may feel, but the entry was obvious in ordering dishes that do not contain either such ingredient and was designed to alert staff at the takeaway of the risk of ordering the dish. Neither contact number nor the home address that were entered in the form were ever contacted by anyone at the takeaway with any inquiry about the notes on the order."
"Megan had made light of her allergies to her friend and said 'it's not a big deal,' but when pressed by her friend, she said 'she was allergic to nuts but there is nothing in it, and it will be fine.' When the order was received by the takeaway, the food order was prepared by staff at the takeaway and dispatched for delivery. At about 6 pm that evening, the delivery arrived."
"The driver was Rashid, but no inquiry was made by him as to the entry in the comments or notes section, the possible meaning of the entry or any potential allergies or risks. The girls shared out the food including the kebab but on beginning to eat the kebab Megan suffered an immediate reaction. Her friend noticed that her lip appeared lumpy. Her friend advised her mum, and she was given liquid Piriton. She later continued to eat the takeaway food but did not eat any more kebab."
"Megan's mum collected her, and she was not showing any signs of discomfort other than a rash on her left cheek. At home, she went upstairs and shortly after she called her mother. She was struggling to breathe, her lips were swollen and blue. An ambulance was called, but Megan's condition deteriorating rapidly and her breathing stopped. At the hospital, her condition did not improve, and she had suffered irreversible brain damage, there was nothing that could be done for her."
The test reports late revealed that due to the allergic reaction to nuts, Megan suffered a fatal asthma attack. Rashid told authorities that he accepted the order from the takeaway app and told his chefs to prepare it. He had noted her caution about prawns and nuts but said none of the dishes she ordered contained those ingredients.
On January 6, 2017, trading standards officials ordered the takeaway to be shut down immediately after conducting a thorough inspection. Wright added: "It soon became apparent that there were no procedures in place for allergen management, no written record of recipes was either made or kept. There was no apparent system for cleaning of utensils or cutlery, no appropriate conditions designed to protect customers with known allergies from being exposed, a number of ingredients used without any adequate control that they may contain nuts or traces of nuts. There was an obvious lack of control of allergens within the premises with little or no attempt to protect public health and safety."
"The premises themselves and various appliances within them were not clean. There was evidence of mouse droppings, dirty and stained surfaces and appliances, there was little or no evidence of staff having received any form of training in the preparation of foodstuff, hygiene or food safety. The staff was asked to make a replica order of the takeaway meal to Megan, but samples recovered from the kitchen and analyzed confirmed the widespread presence of peanut proteins at levels that were unsafe for people that were allergic to peanut. Peanut was present in the naan, the onion bhaji, and the kebab. This business presented a hazard to public health and the death of Megan."
Rashid, the driver, said he had no idea of any customer allergies when interrogated by cops. When Kuddus was asked if he was guilty of manslaughter, he simply said: "I'm guilty for the girl dying, I've got a daughter who is 13." While both Kuddus and Rashid deny unlawful killing, Kuddus admits health and safety charges. However, Rashid has pleaded not guilty. As for the latest update, the trial continues.