The director of a popular Leeds takeaway has been fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of over £2,000 after beef was found to be used as a substitute in the lamb bhuna.
Mohammed Rafiq, of Mar Takeaway Ltd – trading as Stazione Pizza and Sanam Balti, in Cross Gates, appeared before Leeds Magistrates Court on Thursday 24th September, where he pleaded guilty to offences under the Food Safety Act 1990.
On 10th September 2014, as part of routine sampling work, an Officer from West Yorkshire Trading Standards visited Stazione Pizza and Sanam Balti, where an order for a Lamb Bhuna, advertised on the takeaway’s menu, was placed.
The meal was collected by the Officer and an inspection of the premises was undertaken.
The Lamb Bhuna was then submitted to, and was subsequently analysed by, the Public Analyst, whose analysis determined that the meat used in the bhuna was actually beef.
Upon being interviewed by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, Rafiq claimed he didn’t know the restaurant was supplying beef having thought he had ordered lamb from his supplier.
Despite providing receipts to Officers, the documents only showed ‘meat’ had been purchased and did not identify the species.
David Lodge, Head of Trading Standards said Rafiq’s punishment highlighted the tough stance the law takes on all traders.
He said: “Consumers rightly expect to get what they pay for. This takeaway made substitutions seemingly to save money, without informing the customer.
“Trading Standards will continue to take action against takeaways or restaurants flouting the law.”
Cross Gates and Whinmoor Councillor Pauleen Grahame, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of the Trading Standards, added: “Takeaways must take steps to ensure all menu descriptions accurately reflect the dishes they serve.
“The mis-description of food, whether verbally or in writing, is an offence and samples are taken to identify those businesses failing to comply with the law.”
Last year the Food Standards Agency (FSA) introduced new tests on lamb takeaway meals after the consumer watchdog found evidence of cheaper substitutes such as beef and chicken being used.
An FSA review of local authority sampling data from July to December 2013 found that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaway meals contained meat other than lamb, with other meat species identified including chicken and turkey.
If anyone suspects that their restaurant or takeaway meal is incorrectly described contact Trading Standards, via the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03454 040506 to report the matter.