Trading standards officers working on behalf of the public have prosecuted the proprietor of a Pontyclun Indian restaurant – after the “lamb” madras he sold them was found to contain beef and pork.
The case against Manshur Islam Chowdhury, of Delta Trade Ltd, trading as Indiaah, is another example of the extensive and varied work undertaken by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s expert Trading Standards team in order to protect the public.
While Mr Chowdury has since put in place extensive measures to ensure such an incidence does not happen again at his restaurant, the case should send a clear message to the trade that they must ensure the products they offer customers are exactly as they described.
Responding to a complaint received in February 2013, officers visited the restaurant and placed an order for a lamb madras curry. A sample of this meal was tested and the meat species detected was found to be beef and a very diminutive amount of pork.
Following the investigation, Manshur Chowdhury was charged with an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990, which he admitted when he attended Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court on May 22.
In mitigation the court was informed that steps had now been taken by the restaurant to prevent this from occurring again. Beef is not purchased at all, even for the staff; the two members of staff involved in the sale of the meat have been dismissed; the restaurant has had the assistance from an external consultancy which has created new systems in the restaurant in relation to labelling and storage. Mr Chowdhury also told the court he is no longer proprietor of the business, but works as a waiter.
He was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
David Jones, Head of Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “This case forms part of an ongoing series of activity in which we have worked proactively to ensure customers are only purchasing the goods they think they are. This is particularly important for those with religious or ethical reasons for not eating specific types of meat.
“Lamb is traditionally more expensive to buy than pork or beef and this type of offence not only deceives customers but also creates an unfair trading advantage over those restaurants that are operating legally.
“Residents need to be confident that the lamb madras they are eating is, in fact, lamb and not beef or pork. Our successful work, such as that in this most recent case, to enforce the law surrounding meat content, food labelling and the way goods are described should serve as a reassurance to them.
“It should also send a clear message to premises to ensure they and their staff are aware of the law and do all they can to enforce it, including having a clear chain of accountability as to where goods have come from and where they have been placed.
“Finally, this work should also be a reassurance to those in the industry who do work hard to ensure they offer the best-possible goods and services to Rhondda Cynon Taf residents.”
Samples of meat and checking the origins of and contents of meat offered for sale to the public is one of the areas of work in which Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil Trading Standards have joined forces.
The two local authorities recently launched an important collaboration which will see Trading Standards officers sharing resources in order to operate on shared issues across both county boroughs.
Both Councils already deliver proactive, scheduled work around a range of issues – from weights and measures to labelling and meat content – and, by joining forces, coordinating activity and sharing resources, resilience can be increased.
To report suspicious activity, contact Trading Standards