Asda apologises for lamb gaffe

Asda has apologised for mis-labelling imported lamb as British, after a customer uncovered a New Zealand health stamp on her joint.

Sheep farmer Sue Sharp bought the leg of lamb from Asda in the Scottish border town of Galashiels.

In line with recent country-of-origin Labelling legislation, the lamb was labelled as born, reared and slaughtered in the UK, despite being from New Zealand.

The National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS), which has been in discussion with the retailer, said the mistake was unacceptable.

“We appreciate that mistakes happen and Asda has held its hands up. For a Scottish sheep farmer like Mrs Sharp to have bought a product that she though would support her fellow Scottish or British farmers only to discover that it was imported is unacceptable and Asda has acknowledged that,” commented NFU Scotland’s food chain policy manager John Armour.

Asda said it was an accident and was committed to sourcing British lamb in season.

“This was an isolated incident where a leg of lamb was accidentally mislabelled. We pride ourselves on product traceability and transparency and are committed to sourcing British products first when in season. This was a genuine colleague error for which we apologise and was not meant to mislead any of our customers in any way. We’ve briefed our colleagues at the Galashiels store to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” a spokesperson for Asda said.

Armour said Asda has planned a review of practices at the store.

“This [the review of practices] is a sensible step and it would be prudent for guidance to be re-issued to its suppliers and all Asda stores across the country to avoid fresh meat being incorrectly labelled in the future.

“Scottish shoppers who want to support Scottish farmers need to be able to trust the labels used in every supermarket. Thankfully, incidents of this kind are rare, but the vigilance of Mrs Sharp has provided an excellent reminder to all retailers of the need for best practice and accurate labelling at all times. If it says Scottish or British on the label, it must be Scottish or British in the packet.

“Sheep farmers like Mrs Sharp and her husband are working flat out in lambing sheds and lambing fields at this time to produce tasty Scotch Lamb for market later in the year,” Armour added.

The NFUS reported that Asda was prepared to meet with the organisation to discuss the retailer’s plans to promote British lamb this season.

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