Preston-based Shazan Foods makes ethnic frozen foods, such as samosas and kebabs, all of which are halal certified. The firm supplied the ‘chicken’ kebabs to Asda stores nationwide.
Trading Standards prosecuted the firm for ‘causing Asda to sell chicken kebabs not of the nature demanded by the purchaser’.
Preston Magistrates Court said the firm had been “reckless and negligent”, and ordered it to pay around £900 costs in addition to the fine.
The case followed a complaint to Trading Standards by a consumer who bought a packet of Shazan’s Frozen Chicken Kebabs at Asda in Roehampton, London in June 2011.
When cooking the product, the customer suspected it contained meat other than chicken. The ingredients declaration on the food’s packaging had failed to give any indication that the product might contain beef or dairy products.
At her own expense, the consumer submitted it for tests. Having detected beef protein in the product, the food examiner referred the matter to Lancashire County Trading Standards (LCTS), which is the local food authority in Shazan’s area.
The charge was that the contents of the product didn’t match what the company had stated on the label, according to Nick McNamara, LCTS legal process officer, who gave evidence in court.
He told FoodManufacture.co. uk: “The product only had 72% meat content as opposed to the 80% that was declared on the label. It also contained connective tissue that was 4.4% in excess of permitted tolerances. And beef protein was present in what was stated to be a chicken product.”
McNamara said: “Shazan’s said it had the product tested but it couldn’t detect any beef proteins in it.”
In court, the manufacturer admitted it had changed the recipe of its kebabs by adding yogurt to the ingredients. However, it had neglected to update its packaging, which meant that customers trying to avoid dairy products would have been misled.
McNamara suggested a link between the yogurt and the beef protein.
“How it [the beef protein] got in there has never been fully established,” he said. “We suspect it came from the added yogurt but Shazan said it came from a supplier.”
The company was unable to say when it had changed the recipe other than that it was definitely before June, at least two months before the LCTS sampling took place.
Shazan Foods marketing director Nadeem Ayyub attended the court case. He was unavailable to speak to FoodManufacture.co.uk.
As spokeswoman from Asda press office said: “We’d like to point out that we’re not the only firm that Shazan Foods supplies.”