Orange mousse with nuts leaves Strand Palace a £70,000 bill

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A luxury West End hotel has been ordered to pay £70,000 after a customer was hospitalised by an orange and chocolate-flavoured dessert containing nuts.

The woman tucked into the “dome-shaped orange mousse on chocolate salami base” during a 2019 Christmas afternoon tea at the Strand Palace Hotel, unaware that the dessert contained pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts.

Westminster magistrates’ court heard she had told staff at the Haxells restaurant in the hotel about her nut allergy before the £39-per-head festive tea and a bottle of Prosecco.

She was taken to hospital by ambulance with stomach pains after suffering an allergic reaction to the nuts, and received treatment for anaphylactic shock. She was discharged later the same day.

The four-star Strand Palace Hotel and Restaurants, which sits opposite Somerset House, has been convicted of health and safety breaches. Bosses were ordered to pay a £50,000 fine, with more than £15,000 in costs to Westminster council, which brought the prosecution, and a £5,000 compensation payment to the customer.

The hotel was reported to the council in December 2019, two days after the woman had gone for the tea with colleagues. “The customer had highlighted to the staff that she had an allergy to tree nuts, such as pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts and walnuts several times.

The dessert in question on a tray (Handout)
The dessert in question on a tray (Handout)

“The customer advised staff that only items with a trace of nuts would be acceptable. Staff confirmed that the afternoon tea menu did not contain any nuts, but that some items may contain traces of nuts.”

An investigation by the council revealed that packaging from suppliers was used as the source of information on ingredients in the menu. Allergen details for a dish called “chocolate orange bombe” had been relied on to advise diners that no nuts were in the orange mousse dessert.

However, investigators discovered the two desserts were different, and one did contain nuts. Tests showed the pudding served to the woman included almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios.

The hotel was found guilty of three charges of food safety breaches. The Strand Palace Hotel said it was “disappointed” with the verdict and is taking legal action against the supplier.