A spokesman for Bpex, the pig levy body, said: “Bpex is surprised and greatly disappointed that Sainsbury’s appears to have decided to remove the Red Tractor logo from qualifying packs of pork and pork products.
“Surprised because they did not consult either Bpex or Assured Food Standards in advance of the announcement, and disappointed because Sainsbury’s shoppers will be denied the opportunity to look for the Red Tractor logo, which is the guarantee of independently inspected whole-chain standards, traceability, provenance and quality.”
Sainsbury’s has so far refused to comment on the claims that it failed to explain its move, or even alert the industry to the decision.
Twitter discussion raged into the night after Meatinfo.co.uk broke the story yesterday afternoon.
Sainsbury’s has attributed the decision to “EU changes” and “consumer confusion”. However, one farming leader pointed out the retailer was continuing to carry an Irish farm assurance logo on products. Pete Garbutt, chief livestock advisor for the NFU, tweeted: “Just the UK assurance logo that was confusing then...?!”
A spokesman for the British Poultry Council said: “BPC is extremely disappointed in Sainsbury’s decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from their products. A large majority of British poultry production is done under the Red Tractor poultry scheme which ensures high production standards for poultry meat.
“Poultry farmers are rightly proud of their production standards and it is therefore regrettable that Sainsbury’s should decide to deprive consumers of that choice.”
The Bpex spokesman added: “We are also disappointed because of the timing of this decision, so close to the implementation of new EU regulations concerning pig farming, which are applicable from January 2013. The Red Tractor logo serves as an easily-identifiable consumer guarantee that pork and pork products are compliant.
“Whatever Sainsbury’s future intentions regarding welfare specifications and labelling, for the moment Sainsbury’s customers will no longer be able to determine if they are purchasing Red Tractor-assured British pork without the Red tractor logo or imported pork with no indication of assurance at all.”