Takeaway fined for tricking customers with wrong meat and hygiene rating score
A Barnsley trader faces a fine and costs of almost £8,000 for substituting cheaper beef meat when customers ordered lamb meals, failing to notify Barnsley Council that the premises had changed hands and displaying a food hygiene rating of five when the business had not achieved that score.
Barnsley Magistrates heard, on 12 June, that Asim Tanvir, 25, trading as Haseebs, on Barnsley Road, Cudworth, bought the business in November 2011, but failed to register as the food business operator.
When council food officers visited in September 2013 he pretended he was not the owner. Although the business was downgraded to a rating of three during that inspection, and Mr Tanvir was warned to remove all reference to a higher rating, he continued to promote his business with a rating of five on advertisement material.
After receiving a complaint from a customer who had ordered a lamb meal from Haseebs and was worried that the meat was not lamb, Regulatory Services Officers visited the business and took a further sample of a lamb curry. Both the consumer’s sample and the officer's sample was found to consist entirely of beef meat despite being described as lamb.
The Court told Mr Tanvir that this was a serious case of food fraud and that in addition to the financial gain to the defendant, he had taken away the choice from consumers, who may wish to avoid certain meats from personal choice or on religious grounds.
The Court felt that Mr Tanvir showed further acts of dishonesty in relation to the food hygiene rating score and the ownership of the businesses and his conduct had made the case more complicated for officers than it should have been.
Mr Tanvir submitted a guilty plea and was fined a total of £5,000 plus full prosecution costs of £2,696.72 and a £120 victim surcharge, totalling £7,816.72.
Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “Food fraud is fundamentally wrong and consumers should have complete faith in the food they buy. It is hoped that this case will send out a clear message to businesses that attempting to mislead consumers or council officers in relation to the food they are buying, the quality of the food establishment, or who is responsible for the business will not be tolerated."
Anyone wishing to pass on information about food fraud should contact Regulatory Services on 01226 772468.
NOTES FOR EDITORS – LEGISLATION
Asim Tanvir was found guilty of six charges:
- Two charges under the Food Safety Act 1990 in selling food which was not of the nature required by the purchaser.
- Three charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 in relation to untruthful statements that the meat was lamb when it was actually beef (two charges) and a further charge under this legislation for the untruthful statement under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme score.
- One charge under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2008 - failing to notify the local authority of change of ownership.