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CODWALLOP; Chippy owner is fined for passing off cheap Asian fish as cod supper.

Byline: GEOFFREY LAKEMAN

A CHIP shop owner got battered with a pounds 5,500 fine - after he was caught selling cheap catfish and pretending it was cod.

Nicholas Achilles, 45, advertised the more expensive cod on his takeaway menu when it was in fact an Asian freshwater catfish called panga.

Over three months he sold thousands of portions of fried panga as cod, adding pounds 100 a week to the turnover at his Platters takeaway.

To make matters worse, Achilles' chippy was only yards away from the historic fishing quay in Plymouth's Barbican.

After the council investigated a tip-off about the business, Achilles was reeled in before city magistrates. He told the court he had trouble getting cod and had failed to change his signs telling customers he was selling the cheaper farmed panga.

But magistrate Yvonne Quinlan told him: "It would have been so much easier if you had put up a sign saying 'No cod today'."

Achilles admitted three charges of selling food "not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser" between March and June last year.

He also admitted displaying food with a false label. Prosecutor Andrea Gilbert, for Plymouth city council, said someone had tipped them off that a different fish was being sold. An officer was sent to ask for cod from Achilles' takeaway but tests showed it was actually panga, a type of catfish.

Ms Gilbert told the court: "The menu labelled the food as cod and chips.

"There was no mention of panga, or even fish and chips."

Achilles told investigafishy tors the Asian fish was tastier than cod, looked similar when fried and was 20% cheaper. The council said it was 50% cheaper than cod.

Achilles admitted selling panga as cod for three months, serving 200 to 300 portions a week.

Tony Daniel, defending, said Achilles kept the price of his bogus cod and chips the same even though the panga was 40p a portion cheaper - racking in an extra pounds 100 a week.

Mr Daniel said Platters had previously sold panga, properly labelled, in a trial when cod supplies dried up. Achilles decided to drop cod from the menu - but the signs were not changed. Mr Daniel said cod was brought back when the supplies were restored.

Mr Daniel said Platters takeaway was not to be confused with the nearby restaurant of the same name, which serves almost entirely fresh rather than frozen fish.

The court heard Achilles, who is the sole director of the takeaway, would not be selling panga again. He was fined pounds 4,000, plus pounds 1,500 court costs.

Voice of the Mirror: Page 8

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2011
Words:454
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