The smell of vinegar is synonymous with the traditional, British fish and chip shop.
But up and down the country, unsuspecting customers are being given a fake version of the condiment.
That’s according to YouTuber Tom Scott who’s recently made a short film investigating the state of Britain’s vinegar.
He says in most fish and chip shops, you’ll no longer receive regular vinegar. Instead you’ll be given “non-brewed condiment”.
“It’s water, ethanoic acid, plus a few colourings and flavourings,” he says.
Before you get too outraged, Scott says this vinegar substitute has its advantages.
“It can be made from a concentrate…it’s also halal, because there isn’t the tiny amount of alcohol in it that brewing regular vinegar causes,” he explains.
“Some brands of it are actually gluten-free, which regular malt vinegar most definitely isn’t.”
What’s more, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to produce than regular vinegar, so is usually more cost-effective for small businesses.
The vinegar substitute is nothing new. In fact, Scott says there’s a reference to it in her Majesty’s Inspector of Foods report from 100 years ago. But despite this, many people do not know it exists.
Legally, food outlets are not allowed to mislead customers by referring to the substitute condiment as “vinegar” or presenting it as vinegar.
“Non-brewed condiment must not be described as vinegar or supplied in a distinctive container which customers associate with vinegar, even if it is free of charge,” Trading Standards says.
But according to Scott, most fish and chips shops ignore this rule.
So keep an eye out for these sneaky bottles next time you’re in your local chippy to see what you’re really using to cover your dinner.