The prosecution was initiated by Belfast City Council after it received a complaint that a young child had suffered an anaphylactic reaction after eating an Empire biscuit, a product from Nevis Bakery, in April last year (2018). The child, who was allergic to eggs, was hospitalised as a result of the adverse effects of eating the product.
The Inverness-shire bakery pleaded guilty to failing to provide information on an allergic ingredient, namely eggs, on the packaging of its Empire biscuits.
Nevis also pleaded guilty to placing food (the same biscuit) that was deemed unsafe and considered injurious to health to a specific category of consumers on the market. The producer was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
Food Standards Scotland recalled the biscuits because they contained egg not mentioned on the label on 5 April 2018. Nevis Bakery has since reissued Empire biscuits with the correct allergen information and ingredients clearly listed on the packaging.
Recalls on the rise
Meanwhile, recalls of unsafe food products in the UK have jumped by 40%, driven by rising concerns over poorly-labelled items causing allergy-related deaths.
Research conducted by law firm RPC found that the number of recalls rose from 145 to 203 in the 12 months to 31 October 2018. More than half (110) of these food recalls were specifically related to allergy risks, up 31% from 84 in the prior year.
The spotlight was shone on allergy-risk ingredients last year. The tragic case of a 15-year-old girl, who died after consuming sesame seeds in a Pret A Manger baguette, sparked debates over whether food made fresh on the premises should have potentially allergenic ingredients listed on the product.