Tesco vows more openness on supplies after horsemeat scandal

LONDON Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:01pm EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, has responded to the scandal of horsemeat being sold as beef with a pledge to offer customers insight into its global supply chain.

Regulators and companies in the food industry have been rushing to deal with issues thrown up by the crisis and ease consumer concerns about food quality.

In a blog on Friday, Tesco Chief Executive Philip Clarke promised to provide customers with a window to the workings of its suppliers, providing visibility and transparency to restore confidence in the provenance of its food.

He said the group, criticized in the past for squeezing the profit margins of suppliers, would establish a "world class" traceability and DNA testing system and build a new website that will showcase its tests.

"We pledge that over the weeks and months ahead, we will open up our supply chain and give you more information than any retailer has before to enable you to make informed choices about the food you buy," said Clarke.

He said customers must have confidence "that if it isn't on the label, it isn't in the product."

Tesco declined to say how much this would cost.

However, Clarke did say: "Let me be clear, this doesn't mean more expensive food."

The horsemeat scandal, which has triggered product recalls and damaged confidence across Europe's food industry, erupted last month when tests carried out in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained horsemeat.

Two Tesco products were found to contain horse: Everyday Value beefburgers and frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese.

As the scandal continued to spread on Friday, the president of French meat processor Spanghero promised to disprove allegations that his firm knowingly sold horsemeat labeled as beef.

To view Philip Clarke's video blog, click on: here

(Editing by David Holmes)

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