A Chinese restaurant boss has branded accusations that animal DNA was found in one of its vegan dishes as 'upsetting'.
Li Zhang is the manager of the Imperial Garden in Plymouth, which offers an extensive vegan menu.
According to Li, she has never had any problems with customers finding meat in vegan meals - until now.
Food testing carried out on the takeaway's 'vegan chicken curry', proved the meal contained 'animal DNA'.
The dish was tested after customer Martin King discovered what looked like pork. He sent a message to the restaurant via Facebook.
Two weeks later, he ordered a meal again, giving the Imperial Garden the 'benefit of the doubt'.
King told the Plymouth Herald: "I used to order from the Imperial Garden every Friday for months until I found the piece of pig flesh in it.
"After two weeks' abstinence I gave them the benefit of the doubt, only to again find something dodgy, so the whole thing was taken away by environmental health.
"I was put right off and when I found out it I was being fed animal products it made me feel disgusting to be fair."
The food was tested by Plymouth City Council's [PCC] Environmental Health Department, and results showed that it did contain animal DNA.
An Environmental health officer for PCC said: "I can confirm that we have received the results back from the public analyst for the second vegan chicken curry purchased from the Imperial Garden Chinese Restaurant, that you brought to our attention because you were concerned it contained real chicken."
They continued: "I can confirm that the analyst has indicated that the food did contain animal DNA. However, it is not stated what the animal product is, nor the quantity so it cannot be confirmed to be chicken.
"During this investigation, I was provided with a label for the chicken product that is used to make the vegan chicken curry. This label stated that the food contained milk.
"The product label referred to the product as 'veggie' chicken, in which case it is not being sold to the restaurant as vegan.
"The owner of the business advised that the label was provided (to environmental health) by mistake."
According to Li Zhang, the restaurant is 'very confused' by the result of the test.
She said: "When we were told a piece of meat had been found in a vegan curry I checked with the chef about the dish who said the dish was definitely checked and that nothing had fallen in.
"The image which was sent looked like a piece of raw food and was very clean – if the meat had dropped in by accident it would have been cooked in together – it would have been a yellow stained meat [from the cooking] if so, and we are very confused about this.
"We use a clean wok and spoon separate from the meat to cook the food and we have one chef who does all of the vegan dishes. We always check out ingredients are suitable for vegans and obviously our customers are very important to us.
"We have invited environmental health in to take away more samples for testing and if these come back showing cross contamination then we will accept that, but we can't accept this if it is one person who has taken it [the meal] away.
"It is upsetting to hear this has happened."
According to the The PCC council spokesperson, the investigation is going.
They said: "Because of this result, there is still some further investigation required before any decisions can be made as to what action may be pursued.
"The owner of the business has been advised of the result."
Maria is the head of written content for Plant Based News. Also a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer. Her writing has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself.
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