A restaurant is in hot water - over a curry.
The Shama restaurant and takeaway has been fined for selling a lamb curry which was made of beef. Beef is much cheaper than lamb.
It follows a crackdown by consumer watchdogs in West Yorkshire over the exact meat content of curries.
Restaurant owner Ilyas Mohammad who runs the Shama restaurant and takeaway in Leeds Road, Heckmondwike appeared at Kirklees Magistrates Court in Huddersfield.
He pleaded guilty to an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990 for selling a ‘Lamb Rogan Josh’ which was actually beef.
He was fined £400 with a £40 victim surcharge and ordered to pay £1,607.74 costs.
Each year officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards take samples from food businesses to ensure that consumers get what they pay for and the ingredients and quantities of such used in food are compliant with the law.
On December 18, 2013, as a result of a complaint from a consumer about the descriptions of the meals on the restaurant menu, an officer from Trading Standards looked at the online menu for the Shama restaurant and placed an order for a Lamb Rogan Josh meal over the telephone.
Later that day they collected the meal from the takeaway part of the business. This was later tested by the Public Analyst who reported that the meal did not contain any lamb, and in fact consisted entirely of beef.
When Mohammad was questioned by officers from Trading Standards he said the Shama had been trading at Heckmondwike for two years and during that time they had never sold lamb as a main dish, only beef and chicken.
When they designed the menus they decided to just copy menus from other businesses, which included ‘lamb’ because they just wanted to ‘follow suit’. When Mohammad was challenged on this he denied it was done to mislead anyone.
David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Falsely describing the content of meals is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990; - selling food ‘not of the nature demanded by the purchaser’.
“The continued efforts of officers from Trading Standards to crack down on this kind of food fraud is paying dividends.”
Clr Andrew Pinnock, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said, “An aggravating factor in this case was that Mohammad and his manager got together and deliberately wrote their menus to include lamb in the main dishes, when they had no intention of actually putting lamb in them”.
If anyone suspects that their restaurant meal or takeaway meal is not as described, please report it to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04050.