Takeaways and restaurants are once again urged to ensure food standards processes are top of their menu – following a successful Rhondda Cynon Taf Council prosecution of a Treforest eatery.
As part of the far-reaching and ongoing work of the Council’s Trading Standards unit, which works to protect the community and consumers, a Trading Standards survey investigating the substitution of meat was undertaken at premises across the county borough, including the Cinnamon Tree in Tonteg Road, Treforest Industrial Estate.
Meat samples taken from the Cinnamon Tree as part of the survey uncovered traces of beef and chicken in lamb sheek kebabs. Managers at the restaurant produced receipts that proved the meat could have been bought from any one of three butchers they used in Cardiff, but were unable to pinpoint exactly which kebab came from which supplier.
As a result, the restaurant was charged with two offences under the Food Safety Act, relating to selling food not of the nature demanded and one offence under the 2004 General Food Regulations, regarding the management’s failure to have in place a system to provide details from whom meat was provided.
At a hearing at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court on March 27, the restaurant was found not guilty of the two Food Safety Act offences after the bench concluded, on the balance of probabilities, the venue had acted diligently in relation to the meat purchased.
However, the restaurant did admit the General Food Regulation offence, accepting the receipts it provided for the meat were inadequate for traceability purposes. In mitigation they stated they had stopped using the supplier and were now making their own kebabs from whole meat.
As a result, the business was fined £1000, and was ordered to pay £300 in costs to the Authority and a victim surcharge of £100.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “This has been a costly lesson for the Cinnamon Tree and I hope it serves as a reminder to all businesses that sell food to the public that they must have the necessary processes in place.
“Our website has lots of information and our Trading Standards Team are always on hand to offer advice and guidance if it is needed. We would rather help businesses from the outset and support their legal operation, than leave it until we have no choice but to take matters to court.
“Trading Standards in Rhondda Cynon Taf work on behalf of residents and consumers to ensure they are protected and getting a fair deal. Consumers and businesses alike have the right to expect the food they purchase is what it says it is on the label. Businesses should ensure their products are properly described and that they have an infallible audit trail in place so the precise origin of all meat can be identified and, where needed, withdrawals of products can be targeted, accurate and controlled.
“The proactive work of Trading Standards officers, including investigations such as this, will continue for the peace of mind of residents and consumers. Premises that feel they need additional support of information can visit the Trading Standards webpages.”
For more information on the support and training on offer to food businesses from Trading Standards, visit the dedicated webpages