Tesco supplier denies blame for rogue pork chop

The slaughterhouse at the centre of the mislabelled British pork chop row has denied supplying foreign meat and insists it is not to blame for the blunder.

A BBC investigation discovered that a Tesco store in Salford was found selling a packet of pork chops labelled as British but were likely to have come from the Netherlands.

The results of isotope tests in a German laboratory, carried out by the British Pig Executive (BPEX), showed there was a 1% chance that the meat  was British, despite the package carrying the Red Tractor logo, which ensures meat is 100% British and reared to certain welfare standards.

Tesco sourced the meat from Cranswick Country Foods, which was bought from FA Gill, a family-owned company in Wolverhampton.

Following the discovery of the rogue meat, Tesco suspended FA Gill as an approved supplier. But Charles Gill, director of FA Gill, insists that his company is not to blame.

“FA Gill has supplied Cranswick for more than 20 years with an unblemished record and our documentation proves that only whole British pork is ever supplied to Cranswick,” said Mr Gill.

“It is standard industry practice to have a full-time independent Food Standards Agency vet on site at all times and it is impossible for foreign meat to enter the process at any time.

“Both Tesco and Cranswick have observed our production process, as recently as 10 September, and have themselves seen that it is impossible for foreign meat to enter our British pork supply chain.”

Mr Gill added that the results of isotope testing had proven that FA Gill’s own on-site slaughtered pork, when independently sampled, was shown scientifically to be 100% British.

“We know that this will reassure our customers that not only is pork from farm-assured pigs killed in Wolverhampton 100% British, but it also demonstrates the integrity of the hard-working pig farmers and skilled butchers here in England.”

Mr Gill confirmed that FA Gill was currently not supplying Tesco, but said he was confident the firm could quickly restore its relationship with the supermarket so that its pork could return to the retailer’s shelves.

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.”

The spokesman added that the investigation was “ongoing” but there was “nothing new to add”.

Cranswick Country Foods said that, since the result, it had carried out further tests on its products, which had shown they were all correctly labelled.

A spokesman added: “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.”

David Clarke, CEO of Red Tractor, said he was satisfied this was an “isolated case” caused by human error and not a deliberate mislabelling or fraud.

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