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Ask fined £40,000 for misleading lobster dish

Italian restaurant chain Ask has been fined £40,000 after misleading customers about a lobster dish.

The chain’s £14.95 Aragosta e Gamberoni was described on the menu as “lobster and king prawn in a creamy tomato sauce with a hint of chilli". Yet it was found to contain a frozen lobster and fish mix made up of just 35% lobster and 35% white fish, plus ingredients such as potato starch and soy protein.

The lack of lobster in the dish was spotted by a trading standards officer while carrying out a routine visit to the chain’s Swansea branch.

At Swansea Magistrates court yesterday it was revealed the overall cost of ingredients for the lobster and prawn dish totalled £2.84, of which the mixed seafood product made up 70p. It was also stated that the cost of buying frozen lobster to make the dish would have been £13.60 per 100g, while the cost of the lobster mix was just £1.40 per 100g.

The dish had been on the menu at the chain's 112 sites for over five years and has brought in sales of around £3million.

Ask apologised for the error, claiming it was a genuine labelling mistake and not a bid to mislead customers for financial gain. It admitted that by omitting the reference to white fish the description was incomplete and likely to mislead.

The court concluded there was little or no risk to public safety.

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