Business Law & Compliance

Steakhouse owner fined for selling selection of “exotic meats”

3 min read

18 September 2015

Deputy editor

The next time you have a hankering for a steak, you may want to consider a vegetarian option. A former owner of a local restaurant has been found guilty for the sale of what he pitched as “exotic meats”.

The British food business is booming at present, and this was only solidified further in September when Richard Branson launched a search for food and drink entrepreneurs as part of his Virgin Startup Foodrepreneur Festival.

“Britain is living through a golden age of entrepreneurship with over five million small businesses providing jobs and helping to boost the economy,” said the billionaire businessman

“At the heart of this are British foodie startups which have created a burgeoning industry of entrepreneurs. Last year’s event unearthed some fantastic talent and I can’t wait to meet the next wave of foodpreneurs driving this movement forward.”

Based on the latest news to have surfaced, however, he may want to reconsider if he’s planning to stuff himself full of samples.

Indeed, entrepreneur Kunal Soni, the former owner of the Steakhouse restaurant in Watford has come under fire for the meals dished up the eatery during his time in charge.

It turns out that a selection of exotic meats on the menu, billed as zebra and wildebeest, were actually horse and venison, reports the Watford Observer.

Read more on the restaurant industry:

The rumble of the red meat ruse was close in 2014 when two trading standards officers from Hertfordshire County Council investigated a complaint about substitutes regarding the “exotic meats” on the menu.

The pair ordered a zebra and wildebeest and Soni only admitted the chef made a “mistake” when they revealed their identities to him. An order ticket in the kitchen was discovered and it said “1 venison, chips and salad; 1 horse, chips and salad” – pretty exotic, but not zebra or wildebeest.

Analysis found the zebra was horse and red deer was passed off as wildebeest. Soon after, officers returned and discovered more than 22kg of horse meat in the freezer, despite no trace of the animal on the menu.

Having now been found guilty by St Albans Magistrates’ Court, Soni didn’t deny the “obvious opportunity” and was ordered to pay £3,860.78.

Richard Thake, cabinet member for community protection at the county council, said: “Passing off food as something that it is not puts other competing businesses at a disadvantage and undermines trust in the market.”