Up to 29 per cent of the content of Tesco Value burger products was found to be horse meat according to Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). Horse DNA was also found in Iceland, Aldi, Lidl products.
All the affected supermarkets immediately withdrew products from sale and an investigations are under way.
Tesco’s Facebook page is being besieged by comments from angry consumers who feel let down by the discovery.
Amanda Thourgood-Hayes says: “I’m sad that Tesco my trusty local store is selling horse meat disguised as burgers!”
Kathy Doyle says: “Never shopping in Tesco again, and stop going on about how it imposes no threat to human health, it’s about false advertising “beef burgers” my a##e, it’s disgraceful people have the right to know what they are eating.”
Tesco is using its social media channels to circulate its official statement in a bid to quell unrest and reassure customers it takes the issue seriously.
YouGov’s social media monitoring index SoMa registered a rise in negative comments heard about the brand on Twitter today (16 january).
Almost a third (33 per cent) of comments heard about Tesco on Twitter were negative, compared with 19 per cent of comments on 14 January that were negative before the news broke.
Comments about Tesco reached 61 per cent of Twitter users today, compared to a reach of just 7 per cent on the 14 January.
An official statement from Tim Smith, group technical director on the supermarket’s website states: “The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious. Our customers have the right to expect that food they buy is produced to the highest standards.
“The relevant authorities have said that these findings pose no risk to public health. We understand that many of our customers will be concerned by this news, and we apologise sincerely for any distress. Our customer service team is standing by to answer any questions customers may have.”
The scandal will further dent trust in the Tesco brand and its efforts to improve marketing communications to revive customers’ love for the brand. It comes just days after the supermarket was forced to defend its investment in coffee chain Harris & Hoole after accusations it was “duping” customers into believing it was an independent chain.
Tesco’s positive performance over Christmas signalled that Tesco was turning a corner after a year of poor financial performance.