By Allergen Bureau

NSW Supreme Court fines restaurant after sesame allergy death

When Nathan Anderson went for dinner at Samaras Restaurant in Wollongong in October 2017, he discussed his allergies to peanuts, shellfish, eggs, and sesame seeds with staff. The restaurant’s front-of-house manager agreed to accommodate his needs but forgot that hummus contains tahini, or sesame paste. A bite or two of bread dipped in the hummus caused Nathan to have a fatal anaphylactic reaction.

The restaurant was prosecuted by the NSW Food Authority and then pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the food it served was safe. For this offence, the restaurant has now been fined more than $100,000. The NSW Supreme Court found the restaurant’s food safety management lacking and has ordered it to provide better training in relation to revised allergy procedures for all staff.

The restaurant had an informal allergen procedure in place at the time, which required management staff to check a handwritten basic allergen sheet before sending orders to the kitchen.

The front-of-house manager, also the restaurant owner’s daughter, took it upon herself to formulate an entree plate for Mr Anderson, and did not discuss his allergies with kitchen staff or any other staff member. While she had carefully excluded sesame seeds from the food, including avoiding cross-contamination, she made the mistake of serving hummus.

Soon after eating some hummus, Nathan felt unwell and left the restaurant to get his epi-pen from his accommodation. He only made it 150 metres before collapsing. Paramedics were called but Nathan later died in hospital.

Further details of the court ruling can be found in media reports.