Tesco has been slammed by the advertising watchdog for misleading shoppers about the conditions in which pigs used for its Butcher's Choice sausages are reared.

The Advertising Standards Authority found a TV ad showing pigs roaming in a field and walking freely in a barn was in breach of its code. The ad has been banned.

Four complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading as they believed the meat used for Tesco’s branded sausages came from pigs that were bred and reared indoors.

Tesco told the ASA it stood by the ad, claiming it depicted pigs both indoors and outdoors. It said a combination of standard trim and outdoor-bred trim had been used in the product and that the pigs had been reared to Red Tractor standards, meeting nationally agreed levels of welfare.

But the ASA said in all scenes the pigs were shown to be in a spacious and free environment.

“In particular, we noted that the pigs were shown wandering unrestricted outside and, within the indoor barn scene, the barn door was shown to be open and the pigs’ movement unrestricted,” the body said in its ruling.

“In that context, we considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ad meant pigs used to make the Butcher’s Choice sausages were reared in an unrestricted environment and had access to outdoor pasture. “

Tesco said it was "a bit baffled” by the ruling.

“The farmer featured is a Tesco supplier and produces some of the pork featured in our ad,” a spokesman for the supermarket said. “We genuinely don't see how the ASA can say an ad showing a genuine Tesco farmer can be misleading."

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Bpex campaign warns public about ‘porkies’ (3 September 2011)
ASA rejects Tesco challenge over Asda ad (31 August 2011)
Tesco agm to be hit by pork price protest (2 July 2011)