Food fraud Rudolph edition: Alaska restaurant labels New Zealand venison as native reindeer

A popular restaurant has pleaded guilty to lying to its customers for two years. In Fairbanks, Alaska, The Pump House Restaurant sold New Zealand venison under the guise of being Alaskan reindeer.  rudolph-red-nosed-reindeer-7049705The restaurant’s parent company pleaded guilty to violating Alaska’s labelling and packaging laws in state court last week.  The deception was noticed during an inspection in August last year. Food safety staff noticed a box that identified the meat was from New Zealand, not Alaska, said prosecutor Carole Holley with the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions. The business manager said the restaurant “deceptively served elk in lieu of reindeer ‘for about two years”. Both the terms red deer and elk were used to describe the meat served under the name reindeer. Red deer and American elk are closely-related. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the business would pay $50,000 in criminal fines, and will donate all profits from the dish to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, The Salvation Army and Stone Soup Cafe – equating to $10,532.