When you go to a restaurant or a take-away store, you expect to know what you are getting with your order. The menus should have all of the ingredients of your meal laid out and it is right that you expect to get what you order. If you were to order a lamb curry, you would expect to get a lamb curry, and you would be right to be annoyed to receive a beef curry instead.
This was a situation that arose for a takeaway store in Deighton and the owners of the store have been punished seriously for their actions. The Spice Village was caught out in a test purchase where it was found that they had been offering lamb curries which were actually made with beef and that their ham and pineapple pizzas actually contained turkey.
Cheaper ingredients will save money
Javid Iqbal and Mohammed Shafique both pleaded guilty when they attended at the Magistrates Court in Kirkless facing a number of offences relating to the Food Safety Act. It turns out that the motivation for their action was to utilise cheaper ingredients in order to save money. In these tough economic times, it is easy to see why businesses are keen to find ways in which they can save money while still making sales but this is clearly not the way to go about things.
The two men both admitted charges of selling food not of the quality or nature that would be demanded by the buyer and of charges of offering food for sale with a label that falsely described the food. There was a further charge of failing to be able to adequately trace and identity the source of products they had purchased and both men pleaded guilty to this charge as well.
An officer for West Yorkshire Trading Standards, Joanne Hamer, attended at the store in September and after picking up a menu from the counter, she returned to her car and made an order which she would later collect. The order was for a lamb Balti, a chicken tikka masala and for a ham and pineapple pizza. Upon collection the food, the officer identified herself and she said that the food would be taken away and submitted for analysis.
Different menus saying different things is never a good thing
On the menu board inside the shop, there were listings for a number of lamb curries but on the takeaway menu, these meals were listed as containing “meat”. Under questioning, the staff members admitted that beef was being used rather than lamb. The takeaway menu stated that the pizzas contained ham but the menu board stated, in personal handwriting, that turkey was in fact on offer with the pizza.
The prosecution, which was being undertaken on behalf of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, was led by Mark Willingham and he said about the test purchaser; “She asked to see the product used to make the ham and pineapple pizza and that bag stated Halal Turkey Julienne.”
During an interview, it was admitted that beef was used instead of lamb. The prosecution detailed this interview in court, saying; “He said that this was to do with the price of beef being considerably cheaper than lamb. They accepted that they were wrong but these are serious charges as they have been deceiving members of the public about what they have been buying.”
The fact that customers were not told about the switch in ingredients made this a serious case but the two decided against representation in court. They claimed that there had been a misunderstanding when they changed their supply of lamb to beef and that they would be looking to make changes to their menu as quickly as possible.
The chairman of the Bench, David Worboys said; “You’ve misled the public who have been using your premises and you’ve made gains from this action.”
The serious nature of the offences were brought to light with the fact that both men were ordered to pay a fine of £1,800, prosecution costs of £1,479 and £120 as a victim’s surcharge.
The fact that both men decided against having representation in place may have been down to the fact that they knew they were guilty but this isn’t the only reason you should hire a solicitor. There is a lot to be said for hiring a solicitor in the hope that they will provide you with strong representation, which can minimise the level of punishment on offer. It was clearly a serious crime that was met with a serious punishment but it may be that a professional solicitor would have provided a more robust defence.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.