Retailers ramp up meat reassurance activity

Retailers are ramping up reassurance activity to limit the damage caused by the horse meat scandal, as Government calls on retail industry for more action to restore confidence in the quality of meat products in the UK.

Iceland press ads seek to reassure.

Iceland has launched a press ad telling customers they can trust in its food, reiterating horse meat has never been found in its products and claiming it does not produce “cheap food”.

The ads outline a number of steps Iceland has taken in recent years to improve the quality of its food. It draws comparisons with Marks & Spencer, pointing out Iceland has made certain changes ahead of its upmarket rival, including being the first UK supermarket to remove artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives and banning MSG in 1986.

It comes as iceland CEO Malcolm Walker hit out at local council’s for fuelling the horse meat scandal by awarding catering contracts for schools and hospitals based on price driving down quality.

Meanwhile, discounter Aldi has also run press ads highlighting its beef products are Red Tractor Assured 100 per cent British beef offering shoppers “complete peace of mind”.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is meeting with retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons later today (18 February) to find out what the industry is doing to restore consumer confidence.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) will also attend talks alongside the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD)

Waitrose CEO Mark Price hit out at cheap food as the cause for a “slackening of product specifications” in a column in The Sunday Telegraph yesterday (17 February) saying the current crisis should “open up a debate around the true economics of food and a determination on the part of everybody in the food industry to apply renewed rigour to their processes and testing regimes to ensure that customers can relax and enjoy the food they buy.”

It comes after Waitrose sent an email to its customer base last week admitting traces of pork had been found in its beef meatballs although no horse meat had been found in any of its beef products.

The UK organisations for the pork, beef and lamb industries also launched a campaign on Saturday encouraging shoppers to buy British, while Tesco posted a blog outlining its plans to provide customers with more information on food provenance and production than its rivals and emailed all customers on its database to inform them of its new commitments.

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