Samples of lamb curries taken from three Halifax takeaways have actually turned out to be beef as a result of a survey conducted by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
Following a number of consumer complaints about the type of meat used in curries, Trading Standards conducted the survey to check the authenticity of the ‘lamb’ used in West Yorkshire Takeaways.
16 samples of ‘lamb curry’ have been analysed so far by the West Yorkshire Public Analylist - of these seven have turned out to be made of beef, three of which are based in Halifax.
The Food Safety Act 1990 makes it a criminal offence to mislead consumers about the food they buy. Based on these findings it appears that many takeaways are breaking the law by describing beef products as ‘lamb’. Officers have found Lamb Bhuna, Lamb Balti, Lamb Sheesh Kebab and Lamb Donner Kebab to be made of beef. Although some takeaway menus describe the curries simply as ‘meat’, when asked, the staff have falsely described the meat as lamb.
Lamb is a more expensive meat than beef, one trader reporting that lamb costs £13 per kilogram whereas beef is only £5 per kilogram. This provides a strong incentive to switch to beef in order to keep costs down. Unfortunately, those restaurants and takeaways which have started using beef are misleading their customers if they don’t change their menus. Not only that, they are gaining an unfair advantage over competitors who are complying with the law.
Although some consumers may not be concerned, others may prefer lamb over beef or they may wish to avoid beef for religious reasons.
It is a legal requirement to accurately describe food that is being sold. Many takeaways and restaurants describe curries as ‘meat’ or ‘keema’, however they must state what species of meat this is. Of the curry houses visited so far none have declared ‘beef’ on the menu.
Councillor Jayne Booth, of the Trading Standards Committee, said: “It is understandable that takeaways try to minimise costs but they must not mislead their customers. If they do switch to using beef they must change their menus.”
Consumers who wish to avoid beef are advised to ask the takeaway what is available, even if the menu says its lamb. Anyone who has a legitimate concern that this is happening in their local takeaway or restaurant should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.