The slaughterhouse implicated in this week’s mislabelled British Tesco pork chop row has been suspended by the retailer as an approved supplier, The Grocer can reveal.
FA Gill - which supplies pork from pigs it slaughters itself and also buys in - was this week fighting to clear its name after Cranswick’s records indicated the slaughterhouse supplied the loin used to make the wrongly labelled chop.
And Gill claimed it had documentation showing it supplied whole British pork loin to Cranswick, although it had no knowledge of what happened to the meat after delivery.
Another supply chain slip-up…
This week’s rogue pork chop does not appear to be on the scale of Horsegate and it does not involve substitution of species.
However, both are connected in that they raise serious questions over the integrity of the UK meat supply chain.
As The Grocer’s fresh foods editor Julia Glotz told the BBC’s Farming Today earlier this week: “To potentially have once again an example where those traceability procedures - those overall checks and balances - have been found to be wanting is very worrying.”
And the industry view? “It’s a different situation, but it’s one of those things ‘when are we going to learn?’” said one supplier.
“We feel we’ve been put into the dock. We’ve yet to see or receive any evidence,” director Charles Gill told The Grocer. “We feel devastated by this misunderstanding.”
He added that Cranswick’s failure to provide evidence it had repeatedly requested had led him to refuse a visit to his site from Cranswick this week.
On Wednesday Cranswick suggested a visit for Thursday. Gill refused, asking Cranswick not to visit its sites and instead suggested a “suitably convenient” time could be arranged once the information was provided. “In view of the fact that we have already had six visits from these other organisations since July in connection with this same matter, we felt there was nothing to be gained from a visit,” Gill said.
Gill claims that visits from Tesco and Cranswick personnel relating to the matter have already amounted to 96 hours since July and it has given full and frank disclosure of its records to the companies.
FA Gill has supplied Cranswick for more than 20 years and says this week was the first time it had declined a visit.
On Monday, BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today and You and Yours programmes revealed that isotope tests carried out on a pack of Tesco ‘British’ pork, supplied by Cranswick, indicated there was less than a 1% chance the pork was from a British farm.
Earlier this week, Cranswick told the BBC it had isotope-tested meat produced before and after the incident and tests had confirmed the robustness of its systems.
“We believe this is an isolated error and we are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again,” a spokesman said.
As The Grocer went to press, a Tesco spokeswoman said the investigation was “still ongoing”. Earlier this week it told the BBC: “We have spoken with our supplier to make clear that this mistake is unacceptable.”
Cranswick did not respond.