Girl with peanut allergy spends 18th birthday in hospital after curry from Heaton takeaway

Eleanor Lincoln went into anaphylactic shock after eating a chicken tikka masala from Khan's restaurant last March, despite her family asking for no peanuts. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

A teenager with a peanut allergy spent her 18th birthday in hospital after eating a curry from a takeaway in Newcastle.

Eleanor Lincoln went into anaphylactic shock after eating a chicken tikka masala from Khan's restaurant in Heaton last March.

She was treated with an Epi-Pen by her mum, Bridie, before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle gave Eleanor, who was struggling to breathe, steroids. She was kept in hospital overnight for observation but discharged the next day.Ms Lincoln, 51, said: "I couldn't believe what was happening. This was the first time she's had a severe reaction.

"It was like being trapped in a nightmare. She could have died over something so simple. But it just wasn't her day to die."

  • Video report by Chris Conway.

She added: "It was her 18th birthday and it was full lockdown so we tried to make it as special as we could.

"We had balloons and Champagne and we all got dressed up."

Eleanor's family tried to make her 18th birthday special despite lockdown restrictions. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

It was the first time the family had used Khan's Restaurant as their usual takeaway was closed.

Not long after her first bite Eleanor, whose peanut allergy was diagnosed when she was six, realised something was not right when her lips started tingling.

As her lips and tongue began to swell, her mum administered the Epi-Pen and phoned an ambulance.

Eleanor was sick, and her mum believes this could have been what saved her life as she was able to get some of the allergen out of her body.

Eleanor's mum Bridie administered her Epi-pen before calling the ambulance. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

"If Eleanor hadn't of been sick she would have died," said Ms Lincoln.

Newcastle City Council’s Environmental Health Team launched an investigation after the incident.

They found that when the order was made the family specifically asked for no peanuts, but staff missed the crucial information. And peanut and almond protein were found in the meal.

Food business operator, Samir Najeeb, of Khan’s Restaurant, was charged with one breach under the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations and another under the Food Safety Act.

He pleaded not guilty to both charges but was found guilty of the Food Hygiene Regulations charge.

He was fined £450 and told to pay £3,000 in costs at Newcastle Magistrates' Court.

The charge under the Food Safety Act was dismissed by the court.

Eleanor has now fully recovered from her ordeal and is studying physics and astrophysics at University in Manchester.

Ms Lincoln hopes her daughter's near miss will serve as a life-saving warning.

She said: "You have got to check the ingredients in everything.

"For 12 years after Eleanor was diagnosed we have never had any problems.

"I want to highlight that this can happen even when you ask for a peanut-free meal. You just can't be complacent. Ingredients can change and staff can change."

She is urging all allergy sufferers to follow-up online food orders with a phone call to make sure their requirements have been received and understood, and said restaurants should think twice about using potentially harmful ingredients in dishes where they are not necessary.

Eleanor's family had ordered a takeaway from the Khan's restaurant in Heaton via an app, and specifically asked for no peanuts. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

A spokesperson from Khan's restaurant said: "Khan's Restaurant takes food safety and allergen control very seriously. 

"Regrettably, in March 2021, despite having procedures in place, an allergen request was missed, which resulted in a customer receiving a dish she should not have received. 

"We immediately apologised to the customer and since then, we have strengthened our allergen controls and introduced extra checks to ensure our customers' safety. 

"This was the first such incident in our 23 years of trading.  We accept the court's finding that there was a one-off breach of food safety legislation in March 2021 and we are grateful to the judge for recognising the restaurant had significant measures in place to manage allergens and this event resulted from an isolated mistake."

Councillor Irim Ali, who has responsibility for regulation on the city council, said: “People have died from food allergies and contaminated food from takeaways and restaurants.

"I can’t emphasise enough the seriousness of this case. Thankfully Eleanor is fit and well now.

“The case highlights the need for very strict management of food orders and great care needed when serving food. There is no room for complacency or error.

“The public must be confident that businesses are safe and take no risk with their safety. We are committed to supporting businesses with training and help but will hold those to account that put lives at risk.”

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