Tesco apologises over horse meat scandal
TESCO has apologised to its customers in a full page advert in national newspapers over the revelation that it has been selling beef burgers containing horse meat.
The chief executive of the UK’s biggest retailer, which saw a fall in its share price on Wednesday on the back of the back of the scandal, has said he is ‘angry’ with Tesco’s suppliers about the episode but insists the retailer will not ‘hide behind its suppliers’ when it comes to accountability.
The adverts carry the headline “We Apologise”.
They carry on: “We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise. People in our country will have been very concerned to read this morning that when they thought they were buying beefburgers they were buying something that had horse meat in it”
“So here’s our promise. We will find out exactly what happened and, when we do, we’ll come back and tell you.
“And we will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again.”
Tesco promised that customers who had bought the burgers in question would be eligible for a full refund. The products affected were Tesco Everyday Value frozen beef Burgers, Tesco Frozen Beef Quarter Pounders (454g) and a branded product, Flamehouse Frozen Chargrilled Quarter Pounders.
In a blog, Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke stressed that ‘this is not a safety issue’, with the food safety authorities in London and Dublin confirming that ‘horse meat poses no health risk’.
The burgers were in question were supplied by two processors, Silverscrest, in Ireland, and Dalepak, Hambleton, in Yorkshire. ABP, which owns both plants, has said its investigations are focussing on two companies in continental Europe that supply it with beef ingredients that are added to forequarter mince in the processing of the burgers,
Mr Clarke said: “If some of our customers are angry, so are we. We expect our suppliers to deliver to a standard, and to meet basic food traceability rules.
“But our customers shop with Tesco, not our suppliers, so you won’t find us hiding behind suppliers. It’s our job to ensure they are meeting our high standards. The first step to rebuilding trust is honesty and transparency, and that is why we will continue to tell our customers everything we know and everything we are doing to stop anything like this happening again.”
He stressed that, as a food retailer, customers must have confidence in the products on offer and ‘trust is essential’.
“As a customer, you need to know that the food you buy and consume is what it says it is. Trust is hard won and easily lost,” he said.
He sought to reassure customers that when things go wrong Tesco will ‘go above and beyond what is merely necessary’ to look after customers and ‘do the right thing’.
Prime Minister David Cameron has described the episode as ‘a completely unacceptable state of affairs’.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “People in our country will have been very concerned to read this morning that when they thought they were buying beefburgers, they were buying something that had horsemeat in it.”
He called for an urgent investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which called a meeting a meeting of industry representatives on Wednesday afternoon to try and getting an understanding of the extent of problem.
Asda and Sainsbury’s have become the latest retailers to withdraw products from sale as a result of the scandal, even though they were not directly implicated in the initial Food Standards Authority of Ireland investigation.
Millions of burgers have been withdrawn from sale in Ireland and the UK in a bid to shore up consumer confidence.