A director of a Leeds takeaway has admitted to what an industry watchdog described as one of the “worst cases” of food fraud they had ever seen.
Arshad Hussain was in the dock at Leeds Magistrates’ Court yesterday to be prosecuted by West Yorkshire Trading Standards for a string of offences relating to Tasty Balti, on Queen Street, Morley.
Both he and the company, Tasty Balti Ltd, faced 10 charges which largely concerned the mis-description of food.
The court heard inspectors made a test purchase of five dishes over the Just Eat website from Tasty Balti - and all five were not as the menu described. Public health analysts found the ‘lamb curry’ was in fact beef, the ‘lamb doner kebab’ billed as ‘100 per cent lamb’ was actually 1-5 per cent lamb and the remaining meat was poultry.
Prosecutor Derek Hallam said the Margherita pizza, described as using mozzarella cheese, was made with part artificial cheese and the ham pizza, which also had the mozzarella issue, was made with turkey not ham.
The final dish, a chicken tikka masala, had been coloured using a non-permitted food colouring.
Mr Hallam said Hussain admitted in interview that the ‘cheese’ was cheaper than 100 per cent mozzarella and he had asked suppliers for beef instead of the more expensive lamb.
The court also heard Trading Standards had visited Tasty Balti four months before, in October 2013, to establish whether menu descriptions matched the ingredients.
Advice had been given and the takeaway was required to complete a signed declaration. When this was never returned, it sparked the follow-up test purchase operation.
Hussain pleaded guilty to all 10 charges, on behalf of himself and the company.
Tahir Mahmood, mitigating, said Hussain had been made a director, by his brother, despite having no experience of management or running a business.
He has now stepped down from the role.
Mr Mahmood said: “He accepts that he hsa done wrong by his actions but this is a man who hasn’t deliberately tried to fool the public. He has tried to make ends meet and provide for his family and acted rather foolishly by selling products that were not as described.”
Hussain, 30, of Cark Road, Keighley, was fined £100, ordered to pay £500 costs and to pay a victim surcharge of £20.
Tasty Balti Ltd was fined £1,000, ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, David Strover, food team manager at Trading Standards, said: “This takeaway is one of the worst takeaways in West Yorkshire for food fraud that we have found in recent times.
“The case is one of many food fraud cases concluded by West Yorkshire Trading Standards at takeaway businesses. Takeaway proprietors should ensure that the type of food that they sell matches their menu descriptions.”