Inspectors entered via the back and discovered a staff member putting blocks of frozen mutton into black bags.
You’ve more than likely heard of the saying ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. Well, an Indian restaurant has come under fire after it brought this phrase to life – by falsely advertising mutton as ‘lamb’ kebabs.
The Swansea-based restaurant, named Zafran, claimed to sell lamb on its menu, yet only had mutton on its premises.
A trial into the scandal was conducted at Swansea Magistrates Court.
Zafran’s manager, Shamin Miah, pleaded guilty to charges of publishing an advertisement that falsely described food and failing to provide traceability information.
Both Miah and his meat supplier received hefty fines for the scam.
Inspectors of Neath Port Talbot Council first became suspicious of the restaurant during routine inspections in July 2016. The only variety of sheep meat on site was frozen mutton, packaged in blocks and stored in a chest freezer.
In addition, Zafran contained no information on allergies. Afterwards, the council sent letters to the restaurant and arranged another inspection, but they decided to arrive unannounced.
Council staff went to the location in October 2016 and purchased takeaway lamb meals. They then revealed their identity and true purpose of their visit, carrying out a second check of the restaurant’s food.
Once again, they only found mutton and no lamb. Miah soon arrived and claimed the meat was actually hogget – a type of sheep meat which is between one and two years of age. The council staff demanded him to provide documents to prove this.
However, the manager failed to hand over this paperwork. This prompted a third inspection in January 2017, which would reveal the scam.
Upon arrival, council staff asked to see the food storage but were “politely declined to wait”. They decided to enter via the back and discovered a staff member putting blocks of frozen mutton into black bags.
Staff failed again to show documentation of the meat’s origin. This led to the council summoning Miah to a formal interview in July 2017.
During the trial, they acknowledged the risk of a person having an allergy to mutton, but not to lamb, is “vanishingly small”. Yet the meat’s traceability had importance in the case of an outbreak of some disease, as they wouldn’t know the source.
The manager’s defence lawyer, John Allchurch, claimed his client suffered from poor health. He added that suppliers had misled Miah about the meat and that he now sources meat from a different company.
Allchurch concluded that “everything is above board”. However, for his charges, Miah received a fine of £200, along with his company, Zafran Zests Ltd, handed a fine of £640. He also needs to pay £94 for victim surcharges.
He now has a timeframe of 56 days to pay the full total.