Tesco has apologised after two pork chops it sold labelled as British were likely to have come from the Netherlands, tests revealed.
Pork carrying the Red Tractor logo that was purchased in a Tesco store in Salford, Greater Manchester, by a BBC reporter was sent to a German laboratory for testing.
Scientists used a technique known as stable isotope ratio analysis, which checked the authenticity of the pork by comparing it to meat sourced from other parts of the country.
The British Pig Executive (BPEX), which carried out the tests to ensure the provenance of goods bearing the Red Tractor logo, said the results showed a less than 1% chance that the pork came from a British farm and that it probably came from the Netherlands.
“We are extremely disappointed to discover a pork loin product probably came from a Dutch farm, not a British farm”
Tesco said its records showed the meat was bought from Cranswick Country Foods, whose own records showed they had bought the meat from FA Gill, a family-owned meat company in Wolverhampton.
The retailer added that it was “unclear” why the meat had been incorrectly labelled as British and it was “investigating with its supplier” to try to understand where the breakdown occurred in the supply chain.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed to discover a pork loin product probably came from a Dutch farm, not a British farm.
“When we specify that we want British pork, we expect to be supplied with British pork. We have spoken with our supplier to make clear that this mistake is unacceptable.
“Further testing on more products has confirmed the country of origin is correct in all cases. We’ve recently trialled this new isotope testing and we are talking to BPEX about how we can develop this alongside our existing tests, to bring even more rigour to our food testing programme.”
A spokesman for Cranswick Country Foods said: “As one of the UK’s leading pork processors we are committed to investing in and promoting the British pork industry.
“Since this result on one of our products, we have followed BPEX guidelines and conducted a full traceability audit.
“Further tests on other pork products have all come back to show the pork is correctly labelled. As a result of our investigations we believe this is an isolated error and we are taking steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
Andrew Knowles, head of communications at BPEX, said: “The indications are that this is human error and someone picked up the wrong loin through a large number of loins going through a process.”
A spokesman for FA Gill said: “FA Gill Ltd was not aware of, and hasn’t been challenged with, the assertion that the one ‘rogue’ pack of pork came from our supplied pork.
“With the information that the pork was most likely of Dutch origin, FA Gill Ltd denies that the pork came from our supply as we do not deal with Dutch meat.
“It is entirely possible that it came from elsewhere as we are only one of a number of suppliers of pork to Cranswick that is packed for Tesco.”
David Clarke, CEO of Red Tractor, said he was satisfied this was an “isolated case”, adding: “We are also sure and that it was caused by human error; this was not a case of deliberate mislabelling or fraud.”
The latest blunder is a further embarrassing setback for Tesco, which, following the horsemeat scandal, pledged to improve the honesty and accuracy of its food labelling.