The Co-op has launched an investigation after some of its Red Tractor marked lettuce was sourced from Spain.

Shopper Tracy Adams spotted two packets of little gem lettuce carrying the Red Tractor logo and clearly marked as “produce of Spain” in a Co-op store in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

To add to the confusion, the lettuce also carried a large British flag graphic around the outside of the whole label.

According to Red Tractor, when you see the Union flag you “can be sure the food has come from UK farms”.

“I think it’s worrying for British growers and farmers – it’s an outrage, really,” said Ms Adams, a farmland bird adviser in Dorset/Wiltshire.

“It’s just a shame – it undermines people’s confidence in British produce. When people are cash-strapped, it’s just an added reason for people to say: ‘I’m going to buy the cheapest thing. Why bother?’”

Ms Adams later posted a picture of one of the lettuces on her Twitter site (@FarmlandBird).

Debbie Cawood, NFU head of food chain, said: “It looks like a mislabelling error – but it’s very confusing for the consumer.
“Regardless of whether this was an error or not, we need to protect the integrity of British produce. This should not be happening.”

A Red Tractor spokesman said: “We are aware that one batch of Spanish lettuce packed for the Co-operative was incorrectly labelled with the Red Tractor logo. This was an isolated error.

“The product should not have been labelled in this way and the Co-op has acted swiftly to withdraw the batch.”

A Co-operative Food spokesman said: “We can confirm that a small quantity of our own-brand little gem lettuce, which originated in Spain, was incorrectly labelled as being from the UK and Red Tractor.

“Accurate customer information on labelling is extremely important to us and our customers, and as soon as the error came to light we withdrew the incorrectly labelled lettuces, and are investigating this incident with our supplier to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.”

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