A pork chop labelled as ‘British’ that was bought by a BBC reporter in a Tesco Express has failed a provenance test. Isotope analysis by Bpex suggested there was a less than 1% probability that the meat was British. The meat was supplied to Tesco by Cranswick, which in turned traced it back to its supplier F A Gill. The Grocer’s Julia Glotz spoke to the BBC’s Farming Today programme this morning:

This matters because if you think back to the horsemeat scandal, at the very heart of that issue was consumer trust; consumers being confident that when they buy something, it contains exactly what it says on pack. So this is potentially yet another example where consumers are told you’re buying this, and later it turns out they’re actually buying something else. It’s fundamentally about trust.

It’s embarrassing for Tesco because of course Tesco was quite extensively exposed to the horsemeat scandal as well.

For Cranswick it’s acutely embarrassing because they have a superb reputation and they are known for operating at the premium end of the market. Again, if we think back to the horsemeat scandal, the story there was very much about cheap, frozen, processed products and there was a bit of an argument from people saying, ‘Oh well, what do you expect if you pay £1 for four frozen burgers?’

This is not the type of product we’re talking about here and this is not the type of supplier we’re talking about. This is a fresh, primary cut, really the kind of product where you wouldn’t expect these sorts of problems.

It’s quite astonishing actually to see so shortly after horsegate yet another issue like this. Suppliers and retailers rolled out extensively testing regimes to really verify for themselves and to reassure consumers that there wasn’t any rogue horse in their product. We were told that all of their various traceability procedures were being stress-tested; they were being double checked to make sure they were fit for purpose. So 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.

Consumers will take some comfort that there is someone out there like Bpex testing meat, but at the same time if a BBC reporter can go out and buy at random a pork chop, and find something is wrong with it, or it’s not as described, of course it raises that question immediately of how much else is out there? Is this a one-off mistake? Or is this something that is perhaps a more fundamental problem in the industry?