A GROCERY STORE is facing charges of deceiving customers by passing off mutton as goat meat.

Taj the Grocer Ltd is accused of selling sheep meat labelled as goat meat to an undercover trading standards officer.

The firm has one store in Western Road, Brighton, and one in Crawley.

Company director Shahid Khan, 44, pleaded not guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The court heard an investigation was launched by West Sussex Trading Standards on May 6 after the Crawley branch was suspected to be passing mutton off as goat meat.

Brett Coleburn, prosecuting, said: “On July 12, 2016, trading standards sent Laura Sanders covertly to Taj the Grocer’s butcher in Haslett Avenue West, Crawley.

“She requested 1kg of mixed goat meat at £7.99.

“The results of analysis of the sample showed the major species was sheep and not goat.”

The firm is also accused of obstructing West Sussex Trading Standards officer Natalie Jillet in her investigation in November 2016.

Khan faces two charges of selling food not of the nature or substance demanded by the purchaser, two charges of selling food with labels likely to mislead as to nature, one charge of obstructing a person acting in execution of the Food Safety Act 1990 and two charges of misleading action containing false information.

Khan opted to have the offences dealt with at crown court.

According to its website, Taj the Grocer sells “the freshest produce, from everyday items to special ingredients” and the ingredients are “the very best the world has to offer”.

Taj the Grocer is run by brothers Shahid, Amir and Zahid Khan.

The chain previously had a store on the corner of St James’s Street and Old Steine, before Sainbury’s took over the property in 2011.

The family previously hit the headlines in 2010 when they were being sued for nearly £300,000 over a loan made to their collapsed property company Awan International Ltd.

Around the same time their parent company, Taj Mahal Natural Food, also went into administration.

The UK is one of the only countries in the world that does not commonly eat goat meat, but it is increasing in popularity.

Goat has a reputation for strong, gamey flavour, but can be mild depending on how it is raised and prepared.

Goat meat makes up 60 per cent of red meat worldwide.

Khan was bailed unconditionally and will reappear at Lewes Crown Court on October 13 for a preliminary hearing.