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5 September 2013 | Will Green
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has taken Tesco to task over a newspaper advert that suggested the horse meat scandal affected the whole food industry.
The supermarket suffered a drop in sales in the first quarter of the year as customers reacted after horse DNA was found in some Tesco beef products.
Tesco took out a two-page national newspaper advert in January that said: “What burgers have taught us” on the first page, followed by text on the second page that included the wording: "The problem we've had with some of our meat lately is about more than burgers and bolognese. It's about some of the ways we get meat to your dinner table. It's about the whole food industry.”
The ASA said two complainants, including an independent butcher, claimed the phrase “It’s about the whole food industry” was misleading because it “implied there were issues with meat standards across the whole food industry”.
The ASA upheld the complaint and banned the advert from being shown again.
In its ruling, the ASA said: “Because the ad implied that all retailers and suppliers were likely to have sold products contaminated with horse meat and because relatively few instances of contamination had been identified at the time the ad appeared, we concluded the ad was misleading.”
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with this decision, but accept that the ASA has taken a very literal view of the wording in the advert.
“We think our customers understood that our aim with the advert was to set out the action we had taken in relation to the horse meat crisis and to acknowledge the fact the issue had serious consequences not just for Tesco, but for the whole of the food industry.”
Separately, two men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud in connection with the horse meat scandal.
Two other men were interviewed under caution and a number of businesses and homes were searched in an ongoing investigation by City of London Police, the national policing lead for fraud.
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