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NEWS & VIEWS SPICE BUSINES S


if they’re defrauding customers - how safe are they in other aspects?” He called for the authorities


FRAUDSTERS ‘BEEF UP’ LAMB CURRY


TRADING standards experts have said they believe the practice of substituting lamb with beef is widespread in spice restaurants and takeaways in Scotland. In a recent report the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee - which is part of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) - carried out 129 tests at restaurants north of the border.


It said cheap beef was passed off as lamb in 46 of those samples. In 33 there was no lamb in the dishes, while the remaining 13 used some lamb and cheap cuts of beef. The report, which was completed at the end of last year, did not identify the premises which had been surveyed. According to the report: “The


results from the survey confirm that a significant proportion of lamb-based curries offered for


12 MAY/JUNE 2013 ISSUE 48


sale in Indian, and similar style, restaurants and takeaways were falsely described as they contained either no lamb, or a mixture of lamb and other meat. The sale of such curries contravenes the Food Safety Act and the Food Labelling Regulations. Hugh Pennington, emeritus


professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, told the BBC: “It’s a bit like the horsemeat issue - it’s fraud. Rather than one or two traders in Europe defrauding people, this is local and on a grander scale.” Prof Pennington said the beef


would not be dangerous if it was from a reputable source and was cooked properly. But he added: “It raises questions, not just about fraud, but also other issues. How good are their practices in the kitchen,


to come down hard on those found to be passing beef off as lamb and for the premises to be ‘named and shamed’ to allow customers to make their own choices. Members of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs Scotland (GBR) said they were ‘surprised and angry’ at the report. Because of the seriousness of the accusation of fraud, GBR has demanded that evidence relating to the allegedly guilty restaurants and the scientific tests used to determine whether beef or lamb were being sold be released to the public. Foysol Choudhury MBE,


president, Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs Scotland, says, “It is unacceptable that officials, including The Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee and the Chair of the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland, who have this evidence, have refused to release it. This is causing great anxiety for restaurateurs who believe they are being accused unfairly.” He continues, “Unless this


evidence is released, members of our Guild, who work honestly to run their businesses, will be left to assume that this damaging report is designed to destroy curry restaurants which are a vital part of the economy of Scotland. We do not condone dishonest practices; however the condemning evidence must be released immediately.“ n


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