This week marks National Curry Week, celebrating more than 200 years of Indian restaurants in the UK. Research shows that one in seven curries sold in this country is a chicken tikka masala, making it the country’s favourite curry.
“Many curry favourites are made from similar base sauces and, as such, consumers may believe that the dish they are ordering is free from an allergen they’re trying to avoid – but this might not always be the case. Chef specials can vary significantly and it’s essential to ensure that consumers are provided with the correct information. This could be via notices on menus or on signage within the restaurant, however, businesses need to recognise that the main source of customer information is their staff. If customers are unsure what is in a dish they will ask their waiter/waitress, therefore communication between kitchen and front of house is key. All employees should be up to date with training and awareness when it comes to food allergens. Chefs should ensure that recipes are adhered to and that substitute ingredients are not used without being communicated to front of house staff. Front of house staff must never guess or assume what is in a dish and should always make use of the allergen information provided by the kitchen staff/managers.
“It’s the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that correct information is provided, as well as making sure that suitable ingredients are provided for the chefs. Restaurant owner Mohammed Zaman was jailed for six years in May for the manslaughter of a customer who had an allergic reaction to a curry as a result of corners being cut. The jury heard that he had switched almond powder for a cheaper ground nut mix containing peanuts. Where such steps are taken the risks to consumers are heightened, which is never acceptable.”