Pubs, cafés and restaurants in Lancashire have been caught making misleading claims about the description and provenance of their food.
An investigation by trading standards officers found that 32 of the 41 randomly-selected premises they visited made claims that turned out to be misleading. At least 25% of claims made by 11 of the outlets visited were found to be either incorrect or could not be backed up when trading standards asked for verification.
Misleading menu claims included:
â- "Freshly made" meatballs which were bought in from a wholesaler.
â- "Goosnargh" duck which was not from a Goosnargh supplier.
â- "Smoked" chicken breast wasn't smoked or even smoked flavoured.
â- "British Farm Assured" apple pie wasn't British Farm Assured.
â- "Morecambe Bay" shrimps actually from the much wider NE/NW Atlantic.
â- "Wild mushroom" - from farmed sources.
â- "Ribble Valley" beef from meat suppliers on Merseyside.
Other descriptions such as "organic", "hand picked" and "fresh" were also applied to some foods without justification.
The outlets will be revisited in the future and have been warned they could face prosecution if any misleading claims have not been corrected.
Lancashire County Council's chief trading standards officer, Jim Potts, said: "Lancashire citizens have the right to expect that the meals they buy are genuinely described on the menus and price lists. The popularity of TV food programmes and celebrity chefs may be leading to "over-egging" of menu descriptions but all items must be truthfully described.
"There is nothing wrong with the food itself, and many customers would consider the meals on offer to be tasty. But when you order something it must be exactly as described.
By Neil Gerrard
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