THE manager of a Cardigan Indian restaurant has admitted using a banned food colouring in one of his dishes.
Abdul Mossabir, the manager of Abdul’s Spice in Quay Street, pleaded guilty to using colouring E124 Ponceau 4R in a chicken tikka masala ordered on 24 April 2015.
Mossabir, who served the food to a Ceredigion County Council food standards officer, said he had kept the powder containing the colouring to show staff that it shouldn’t be used.
Magistrates heard that a chef at the restaurant had used the colouring, which could cause problems for asthmatics, not Mossabir himself.
Ceredigion council prosecutor Victoria Evans said checks by the council on an earlier occasion had found the colouring was used in a lamb tikka analysed by the authority.
Mossabir, of 20 Heol Helyg in Cardigan, had been given a warning and advice by the council about not using anything including the colouring.
However, a follow-up check showed that the colouring was present in a chicken tikka masala analysed in April 2015.
Mossabir, 53, was interviewed in 2016 and said that after the first incident he had spoken to the restaurant’s supplier, who had said that the banned colouring was not included in the powder.
He also said that he had kept the batch initially used as a way of showing staff what should not be used in the kitchen.
Ms Evans said, while the colouring was permitted in some forms of food, it had been banned from use in curries or sauces since 2013.
Defence solicitor Alan Lewis said, while Mossabir accepted responsibility for the incident as the manager, he had not been the chef who used the powder containing the colouring.
He said the colouring had been used in Indian cuisine for many years and had been purchased through a large supplier which provides items for many restaurants.
Mr Lewis said after the initial advice from the council, Mossabir had kept the tub containing the colouring, only to be able to say to staff that if anything looking the same came into the kitchen then it was not to be used.
He said: “He decided, rightly or wrongly, to keep the pot sealed on a shelf as a way of saying to staff that, if this comes in again, you must not use it. My client is horrified it has been used”.
Mr Lewis said the council had initially offered to caution Mossabir, but a misunderstanding had meant that didn’t happen and the council had then insisted on taking the case to court.
He said that, while the colouring is banned, it did not pose a major risk as it is allowed to be used in other foods.
Mossabir was given a conditional discharge for 12 months, but was also ordered to pay costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £20.
Presiding magistrate Brian Ashton said: “You had been warned about using this banned additive before. As manager it was your responsibility to ensure this was not used in the kitchen.”
A similar charge against Janath Limited, the company that owns the restaurant, was withdrawn after the prosecution offered no evidence.