Are diners getting the wool pulled over their eyes when they order lamb in a restaurant?
Chef Alexander Papetsas of Kellari Taverna in New York City warned that some customers who order the pricier lamb may be getting meat of a lesser value.
"Everyone knows what a lamb chop looks like," he told Inside Edition. "Serving gyros or lamb and rice — or those dishes where it's a more shredded lamb — it's very easy to make a blend using such things as goat."
Food expert Larry Olmsted said that if you order lamb but see meat on your dish that doesn’t look recognizable, it might not be what you expected.
“The less recognizable it is to your eye, the more likely you are to be cheated,” he told Inside Edition.
The Inside Edition I-Squad tested lamb dishes from 39 restaurants in Los Angeles and New York City. The food establishments included everything from tourist hot spots to food trucks.
The samples were sent to IEH Laboratories for DNA testing, and the results were startling.
Twenty-three percent of the so-called lamb samples were not lamb at all. Instead, they were goat, chicken, or beef, which are all cheaper than lamb.
“It’s much more than I expected to get 23 percent of the time... you order lamb and get goat for example. It’s not acceptable,” said Dr. Mansour Samadpour of IEH laboratories.
At one popular food truck in Manhattan, the lamb dish looked like the real deal, but tests showed it was actually a combination of chicken and beef.
Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero approached the man working at the truck. “You're not trying to pull a lamb scam?” she asked.
“No we're not, we just messed up on your order,” he responded. “Sorry about that, guys.”
One restaurant in Los Angeles offered lamb stew but tests found that it was actually goat stew.
"There was goat in our lamb dish because we had it tested at a lab," Guerrero told an employee. "So are you selling goat instead of lamb to your customers?”
The worker denied the test, saying: “No, we never have goat.”
At a few trendy spots in L.A. and New York City, lamb meatballs were on the menu. But test showed beef had been mixed in.
When Guerrero told a worker at one of the Manhattan restaurants that her meatballs were a beef and lamb combo, he insisted it was 100 percent lamb.
"No," she responded. "We had your meatball tested. There was also beef in the meatballs. Can you explain that?"
He continued to insist there was no beef in the meatballs even after she said the meat was sent to a lab for testing.
He replied: “You did? Well, I don't know about that.”
Food expert Larry Olmsted, author of Real Food, Fake Food, said if you order lamb but see meat on your dish that doesn’t look recognizable, it might not be what you purchased.
“The less recognizable it is to your eye, the more likely you are to be cheated,” Olmsted told Inside Edition.