Restaurants and takeaways will be targeted in a campaign by Cheshire West and Chester Council which will check if customers are really getting what they ask for.
Two years on from the introduction of allergy awareness rules, national and local intelligence suggests there may be a risk that some cheaper foods are being passed off as more expensive foods - for example beef in place of lamb, ground peanuts in place of ground almonds and cheaper fish in place of cod.
Just a year ago a local food company was fined £3,375 for serving beef in a lamb dish and communities are still looking for their confidence to be restored after the horse meat scandal of 2013.
Staff in regulatory services will be ordering and buying foods unannounced at a range of local food restaurants and takeaways in the next few months, to check that customers are getting exactly what they order.
The council’s Cabinet member for environment, Cllr Karen Shore, said: “This is a life and death issue for members of the public who have allergies but it’s also a case of getting a fair deal for other consumers. You don’t expect to ask for cod, pay for cod and receive a cheaper fish, that is frankly unacceptable and any business doing this needs to be held to account to allow fair businesses in the sector to thrive.
“Council food officers hope to find high standards of local compliance with allergy labelling, and fair trading rules, so we can reassure the public that our local businesses are committed to safety and a giving a fair deal.”
Regulatory services officers are advising food business to be sure they know what they are buying and supplying.
The results of the local samples taken will be published next year.