Ingredient substitution is common in the food industry.
A recent study highlighted examples such as a “black bean burger” that didn’t contain any black beans. Similarly, most “100%” Parmesan cheeses on the marketcontain at least some amount of anti-clumping additive made of wood pulp.
Most of the time, these incidents are simply an example of cost cutting that is undetectable to customers (and usually physically harmless). But not always. A court case in England serves as a reminder that when restaurants swap ingredients for less expensive options, the changes could potentially have deadly results.
Mohammed Zaman, the owner of a Yorkshire restaurant called Indian Garden, is on trial for manslaughter after a customer with a severe peanut allergy died after allegedly eating a curry from the restaurant,reports the Telegraph.
Zaman reportedly substituted almond powder with a less expensive mix of ground nuts, which contained peanuts. The court was told the customer, 38-year-old Paul Wilson, alerted the restaurant he could not eat peanuts, but was served a dish made with the ground nuts despite this, leading to his death.
This was not the first time Zaman’s cost cutting allegedly lead to dangerous consequences, with reports that a customer experienced a severe allergic reaction after eating a chicken korma from another one of Zaman’s restaurants less than one month prior to Wilson’s death.
The prosecutor in the case argues that Zaman cut corners to save money, as the business was already in debt.
Zaman has plead not guilty.