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A restaurant in Hertfordshire has been fined nearly £4,000 for serving “zebra” steaks that were in fact horsemeat.

The Steakhouse’s menu included cuts of zebra, crocodile, kangaroo, llama and wildebeest (not pictured).

Two trading standards officers from Hertfordshire County Council visited the Watford restaurant in April last year, following numerous complaints.

The pair posed as customers and ordered zebra and wildebeest from the menu.

When their meal was served, they entered the restaurant’s kitchen and found an order ticket for “one venison, chips and salad” and “one horse, chips and salad”.

Kunal Soni, 32, believed to have been the manager of the restaurant, claimed the waiter had “made a mistake”.

However, when the meat was analysed, the “zebra” was found to be horse and the “wildebeest” was venison.

The officers went back to the restaurant the following month (May) and found more than 22kg of horsemeat in the freezer.

Despite this. horse and venison were not on the restaurant’s menu.

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Last week (14 September) Soni, of Hemel Hemsted, pleaded guilty to misinforming customers at St Albans Magistrates Court.

He told magistrates he was merely helping out at the restaurant, having just sold the business to the chef.

However, the court heard he had described himself as the manager to the council on three separate occasions.

Soni was conditionally discharged for 12 months but ordered to pay £3,861 costs.

“The public must have confidence in the food that is put in front of them when eating out,” Richard Thake, cabinet member for community protection at Hertfordshire County Council, said after the hearing.

“There can be implications regarding traceability of the food, allergens and religious concerns in some cases.”

The Steakhouse has since been taken over by VG Restaurant Ltd.