Is this menu fraud?

Photograph: Shutterstock


I just got a lovely Instagram tag from a guest at a restaurant who said they had veal from my farm there. The only problem is I haven’t sold to that place for at least a year, since the chef I was friends with left. I’m glad they enjoyed it, but it can’t be my product. What should I do?

– Farmer


First, before you get too upset, let’s confirm the facts. I am sometimes tagged in posts where I am not the intended recipient. Especially in farm names, where a rolling meadow can be easily confused with a green pasture or a rolling green, be sure that the restaurant is actually marketing your farm’s product, and it wasn’t a social media error. Next, be sure that there isn’t a possibility that they are buying your product from a wholesaler or aggregator. Or maybe they overbought and are doing a long overdue freezer cleanout. It would be a shame to damage a relationship if they are indeed serving your product in good faith.

If, however, you determine that they are claiming to be serving meat from your farm and you are not providing that meat, let’s call this situation by its name: fraud.

Before getting too legalistic, my advice is to reach out to the restaurant in a positive and constructive way. It may simply be an oversight where the author of the menu (perhaps a manager rather than the chef) did not realize the sourcing of the veal had changed. Inquire about the situation and give them an opportunity to make it right. Maybe they will quickly correct the menu or ask to start purchasing from you again. In my experience, that usually solves any problem related to truth in menu.

If that doesn’t work, talk to your restaurant association and attorney regarding your options. Though difficult to enforce, there are consumer protections in place to make sure that what is on the menu is actually being produced.

More on menu fraud here.

Related Content