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Nevis Bakery has issued a sincere apology to the family of a four-year-old boy who was hospitalised after eating one of its Empire biscuits.
The Fort William-based bakery has said it claims ‘full responsibility’ for omitting to label eggs as an allergenic ingredient on the product’s packaging, which led to the child suffering an anaphylactic shock .
The company was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay over £3,000 in legal costs after pleading guilty at Belfast Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (April 9) to the complaint.
Stephen Bingham, the father of four-year-old Joshua, from County Down, told the court that his son reacted after eating the biscuits at a cafe in Belfast. Mr Bingham said that his son would have died if the family had not had an Epipen with them.
In a statement, representatives of Nevis Bakery said: ‘We take full responsibility and accountability for this unfortunate incident and wish to sincerely apologise to the family involved for the distress caused.
While we do not in any way wish to minimise the severity of the issue, it arose as a result of a small change in recipe that was not immediately updated on packaging.
‘When we became aware of the incident, we took immediate and effective steps to deal with the matter and have implemented procedures to ensure full compliance and safety going forward.
‘We have fully engaged with all agencies, including the Food Standards Agency and Allergen UK, and we wish to reassure our customers that we have taken this incident extremely seriously and can guarantee the future accuracy of our product labelling.
‘We are a small, family-run business and we are committed to continuing to provide high quality bakery products, as we have done for 38 years.’
The prosecution was taken by Belfast City Council, which has been working in partnership with Highland Council to ensure a UK-wide product recall was launched and the biscuit was removed from sale.
Nevis Bakery has since reissued the Empire biscuits with the correct allergen information and ingredients clearly listed on the packaging.
A Highland Council spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that officers from the council’s environmental health team assisted Belfast City Council with the response to the incident and the subsequent investigation. Businesses have clear responsibilities to ensure allergens are identified and should follow the guidance available on Food Standards Scotland website.’