Tesco has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after an advert commenting on its role in the horsemeat scandal was found to be misleading.

The advert, which was over two pages in the national press, said the scandal was “about the whole food industry” – a claim which suggested all meat suppliers were implicated, the ASA found.

An independent butcher complained the ad, which opened with the line “What burgers have taught us”, implied there were issues across the whole food industry, when tests showed not all suppliers were linked to the scandal.

Tesco said it published the ad to show it was taking the horsemeat scandal seriously and to demonstrate it was listening to customers.

It maintained that the horsemeat scandal did affect the whole industry, but the complaint was upheld as the ASA said consumers would think the line apportioned blame across all food retailers and suppliers.

“Because the ad implied that all retailers and suppliers were likely to have sold products contaminated with horsemeat, and because relatively few instances of contamination had been identified at the time the ad appeared, we concluded the ad was misleading,” the ASA said.

A second complaint, which alleged the advert disparaged food suppliers who had not been implicated in the supply of mislabelled meat products, was not upheld.

The ASA ruled that the ad should not be shown again in its current form.

This is the second time Tesco has been forced to defend its advertising recently – a month ago, the retailer was involved in a spat with Sainsbury’s, after it complained Tesco’s price promise adverts did not take into account product quality in price comparison.

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