Wiganers with food allergies could be dicing with death eating at borough takeaways after a council investigation revealed that life-saving regulations were recklessly ignored.
A number of local takeaways have failed an undercover sampling test conducted by trading standards officers, a shock report reveals.
Wigan officers recently visited several local takeaways to conduct undercover sampling.
During the visit officers stated to staff that they had specific allergies to peanut and milk, and therefore could not eat food containing those ingredients.
In total, six out of ten curries and starters that were sampled failed the allergen testing, which included; Three out of three onion bhajis failed for containing peanut, two out of three curries also failed for containing peanut, and one curry failed for containing milk.
All food which failed was found to contain small traces of peanut or milk measured in parts per million, but even these small amounts are still deemed dangerous to those with allergies and is classed as unsafe by the public analyst.
The failures were believed to be caused by cross contamination or because businesses failed to read the ingredients labels properly and take on board declared warnings that an ingredient may contain peanuts.
The trading standards officers found that chefs were not reading ingredient labels properly when cooking, therefore would not have seen labels that indicated the flour or sauce being used may contain peanuts.
All affected premises have been revisited by trading standards officers and have been advised to ensure steps are taken to avoid further failures.
Councillor Carl Sweeney, cabinet member for environment, said: “It is really shocking that severe allergies such as peanuts and milk are not being taken seriously by food premises.
“Our trading standards officers recognise the difficulties food premises have from the risk of cross contamination, especially in busy kitchens. However businesses should conduct a risk assessment or consider not providing allergen free meals to help protect the public.
“Kitchens are very busy places and given our findings, anyone suffering from a food allergy needs to carefully consider that when they place an order, the potential for mistakes to be made and also the risk of accidental cross contamination.”
The takeaways have not yet been named as the investigation is ongoing.
Further guidance from the Food Standards Agency for food outlets can be found by visiting www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance.