Restaurant Fined £25,000 for Serving Hot Chocolate Containing Nutella to Teen with Tree Nut Allergy

Nutella in Hot Chocolate

Despite checking the menu in advance to ensure the drink he was ordering was safe for his allergy, paramedics had to rush a 14-year-old to the hospital after he ingested the drink.

The drink, which is made with Nutella — a chocolate-hazelnut spread — was mislabeled on PGR Restaurant’s menu.

The boy’s mother contacted the restaurant and requested the menu be corrected, but felt the manager was not taking her concerns seriously. She then contacted the UK Trading Standards agency who made an unannounced visit to the restaurant and purchased the drink for analysis.

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The lab report determined the drink contained 17.8mg of hazelnut protein. Exposure to a tiny fraction of that quantity is enough to trigger an anaphylactic reaction.

The inspector also determined that though nuts were declared for other items listed in the menu, the hot chocolate bore no such warning.

The case came before the Coventry Magistrate’s Court on October 23 which subsequently fined the restaurant and management more than £25,000 ($32,000).

Said Councillor Christine Thomas, Chair of the City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee:

Consumers should rightly expect that when they go out to eat, the food they are served is safe and described correctly.  

We are all aware of the tragic circumstances that can occur if someone has a severe food allergy. 

This case highlights how critically important it is that food business operators take their responsibilities seriously.

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