Tesco has taken out full-page ads (see image below) in several national newspapers apologising to customers about the revelation that several of its beef burger products contained horse meat.
The ad confirms that Tesco has withdrawn from sale all products from one of its suppliers, which were found to contain horse meat.
It continues: “While the FSAI (The Food Safety Authority of Ireland) has said the products pose no risk to public health, we appreciate that, like us, our customers will find this absolutely unacceptable…we and our supplier have let you down and we apologise.”
Any customers who have recently purchased Tesco Everyday Value 8x Frozen Beef Burgers, Tesco 4x Frozen Beef Quarter Pounders and Flamehouse Frozen Chargrilled Quarter Pounders are in line for a full refund, even without a receipt.
Tesco is investigating why the situation took place and promises to inform customers why it happened.
The retailer is also using its social media channels to circulate an official statement and to reassure customers it takes the issue seriously. Last night Tesco CEO Philip Clarke also took to his “Talking Shop” blog to explain what the retailer was doing to restore consumer trust.
Clarke says in the blog: “If some of our customers are angry, so are we. We expect our suppliers to deliver to a standard, and to meet basic food traceability rules. But our customers shop with Tesco, not our suppliers, so you won’t find us hiding behind suppliers. It’s our job to ensure they are meeting our high standards. The first step to rebuilding trust is honesty and transparency, and that is why we will continue to tell our customers everything we know and everything we are doing to stop anything like this happening again.”
YouGov’s social media monitoring index SoMa registered a rise in negative comments heard about the brand on Twitter yesterday (16 January). Almost a third (33 per end) of comments heard about Tesco onTwitter were negative, compared with 19 per cent of comments on 14 January that were negative before the news broke.
The FSAI also found horse DNA in Iceland, Aldi and Lidl products but Tesco appears to have felt the biggest hit in terms of a dent to its brand reputation - not least because its Tesco Value burger product was found to have the largest amount of horse meat of all products tested.
The revelations came just a week after Philip Clarke asserted the supermarket was “back on form” after reporting improved Christmas results.
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