Fine for Colchester kebab shop owner who sold doner to customers with allergies in Trading Standards sting

Colchester Magistrates Court

Colchester Magistrates Court - Credit: Su Anderson

A takeaway owner has been fined after his outlet repeatedly sold doner kebabs to customers with allergies.

Mehmet Gerbaga, of Chalfont Road, Colchester, fell into a honey trap after Trading Standards’ officers posed as customers twice at his St Botolph’s Street eatery Istanbul Delight.

On both occasions, an officer requested a doner kebab without soya and on each occasion the allergen was present in the meal, despite guidance being issued after the first failure.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard this week Mr Gerbaga, who admitted failing to comply with food safety regulations, had carried out significant steps to stop a repeat incident after the first problem.

However, a pot washer, who was not supposed to serve customers and had little English, served the officer and fell foul of the law.

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Richard Power, prosecuting for Essex Trading Standards, said each contained 200mg of soya per kilo.

He said: “It probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but even 1mg can illicit an allergic reaction in a sufferer.

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“It is capable of producing harm.”

The court heard Mr Gerbaga had arrived in England in 1983 and opened Istanbul Delight just two years later.

Paul Baker, mitigating, said: “Throughout that time there have never been any prior issues before this.

“Mr Gerbaga is very proud of starting that business from scratch.”

The first incident happened in March 2016, while the second occurred on July 13, 2016, after officers issued advice to the eatery about how to improve food allergen standards.

Mr Baker said: “Having been made aware of the situation, Mr Gerbaga put measures in place to ensure it did not happen again.

“But on July 13, 2016 a kitchen cleaner saw there was a member of the public at the counter and jumped in to serve them.

“He shouldn’t have done that.

“Mr Gerbaga was absolutely furious because clearly his reputation is on the line. The person who served was fired.”

The court heard Gerbaga had since stopped running the shop, handing it over to a family member.

During sentencing, Gerbaga was told there had been a “potential of serious harm to a member of the public” because of the failings.

Gerbaga was fined £961 and ordered to pay costs of £2,232 and a victim surcharge of £96.

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