Tesco confirmed its decision this week in a letter to The Grocer, which referred to an article in The Grocer (‘Pig farms won’t cope if Jamie saves their bacon’, 17 January, p5). The article showed a packet of Tesco streaky bacon with ‘Produce of Britain’ on the front, while the back read ‘Produced using pork from the UK, Denmark, Holland or Sweden and packed in the UK’.
The back of the pack is produced in advance, with the actual origin stamped on at the final stages of production. According to Tesco, whenever it has made on-pack claims that its bacon is British, it has only used UK pork. However, it admits that its labelling of those products had led some consumers to believe that it had been made using imported pork.
“This is absolutely not the case and we wouldn’t do this as we consider it to be misleading,” said technical manager for meat, fish and poultry, Sian Philpott.
Tesco’s move has been welcomed by the British Pig Executive, which says that greater clarity of on-pack messages can increase consumer uptake.
“It appears as though Tesco is taking its responsibilities seriously in wanting to convey the right message to its consumers,” said chairman Stewart Houston. “I hope Tesco will continue its promised support for the Quality Standard mark,” he added.
Tesco said it had already begun changing its bacon labels to make the origin more clear. The front of pack will instead, in future, read ‘Produced using pork from [country]’. The issue of origin labelling was raised in C4’s ‘Jamie Saves Our Bacon’, which aired this week, and was also highlighted in an Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Select Committee report on the English pig industry.
“We hope this move will make things clearer for customers and demonstrate our continuing support for British farmers,” said Philpott.