Consumers and food businesses across the Falkirk Council area are being warned over ‘fake’ lamb that has been discovered in a number of wholesale meat suppliers to the catering trade, restaurants and fast food take-aways in the area.
A routine inspection by Falkirk Council’s Environmental Health team discovered that 10 out of the 14 businesses visited were selling cheap cuts of beef described as lamb during a survey carried out in November/December 2010.
Consignments marked ‘curry meat’ were discovered on a number of the premises visited and on further inspection and laboratory testing, was discovered to be of beef origin and therefore breaking regulations under the Food Safety Act 1990 since it was being sold as lamb.
Cllr Charles MacDonald, Convener of Community Health and Safety said: ‘Unreputable business owners have sourced cheap cuts of beef at far cheaper prices than they would be paying for lamb. It is then sold on as lamb in various dishes that they serve allowing them to make a healthy profit while scamming the consumer.
‘All of the businesses found have been issued with a formal warning and our officers will be making unannounced visits in the future to ensure that they are complying with the legislation. If they don’t they could face prosecution with the potential for a fine not exceeding £20,000 or up to six months in prison or even both.
‘The public has a right to buy what is being described by the business. Substitution of one meat for another without informing the public is wrong, illegal and in some cases could potentially have serious religious and moral repercussions for certain sections of our communities. This is something we will do everything in our power to stop as it is simply deception.’
Falkirk Council’s Food Safety Regulation Manager John Sleith added: ‘While we have given these businesses a warning, we won’t hesitate to prosecute if they are still not complying with the legislation.
‘Our teams of officers are keen to hear of any suspicions that the public or food trade may have and these should be passed on to our Food Safety team on 01324 504982. In order that we can investigate and continue to protect consumers.’
Falkirk Council’s Environmental Health Officers have been working with counterparts from Glasgow City Council and other authorities where a number of suppliers have been operating from and supplying local businesses in the Falkirk area.
Officers are warning all businesses to buy meat only from reputable suppliers, ensuring proper labelling and documentation is provided.
Falkirk Council has raised the meat fraud issue with The Food Standards Agency nationally to ensure that relevant information is co-ordinated and acted upon.