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Kings Fine Foods under investigation over inferior caviar

21 May 2013 by
Kings Fine Foods under investigation over inferior caviar

Caviar supplier Kings Fine Food has delisted the delicacy after finding some of its products contained eggs from an inferior fish, and is now under investigation by Richmond Council.

The tins, marked sevruga, were found by the Environmental Health Association (EHA) to contain roe from a cheaper breed. It is thought that the caviar in question was supplied to Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

In March the company stopped supplying the product, which sells for £1,280 per kg, and sent all its other caviar products for DNA testing. The EHA testing took place at the end of October 2012 after an officer identified a different product in the sevruga tins and the company contacted its suppliers.

Rather than waiting for proof to arrive from its suppliers, who insisted DNA testing was not necessary, Laura King, managing director of Kings Fine Food, initiated DNA testing directly.

King told Caterer and Hotelkeeper: "Some random batches of caviar were tested by the EHA and one came back as not being sevruga but ruthenus caviar. I had never seen or dealt with it before.

"I was shocked, because all our caviar is checked and tasted when it arrives. This was a 2kg batch which had long been sold. It was Christmas week, and we had a different batch to the one tasted.

"I went directly back to the farm, who confirmed in writing that the product was definitely pure sevruga and not ruthenus. I then asked for proof in terms of a DNA test, and while this was continually promised in writing it was not forthcoming.

"I decided to stop selling caviar because of this lack of response from the farm. I then asked all the farms to send me DNA with all shipments so I had 100% proof of what we were receiving.

"With beluga and oscietra it is very easy to tell, but with the much smaller egg of sevruga it's more difficult, because the taste profile of farmed caviar is very different to when wild caviar was available. It's far less pronounced.

"Because of the huge cost involved with sevruga we had to start our own DNA programme on all our caviar and publish the results."

King expects the first DNA results by the end of this week and beluga results within seven to 10 days.

Customers have remained supportive and Kings Fine Food will now follow a process of DNA testing on its caviar every four to six months.

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