Tesco ticked off over organic claims

10 May 2000

Tesco ticked off over organic claims

By FWi staff

A CAMPAIGN by a retired ministry of agriculture official has resulted in supermarket giant Tesco being censured for its claims about organic food.

Geoffrey Hollis, one time head of the pesticides safety division at MAFF, believed that many claims made for organic food were exaggerated, reports The Independent.

In a ruling published on Wednesday, (10 May) the Advertising Standards Authority agrees, judging against Tesco on claims about the purity, cost and taste of organic food.

The ASA censured phrases in a Tesco booklet which implied that organic produce is grown without chemicals, is only slightly more expensive than conventional food and tastes better.

This cannot be substantiated, said the ASA.

The advertising watchdog said this should be amended to say some chemicals are used, there is a wide price differential and there is no difference in taste.

The Independent says this is “the first significant pricking of the bubble accompanying the rise of organic food sales”.

Sales have gone from an annual 200 million to 500m in just four years, and are predicted to hit 1bn by the end of 2001.

A spokesman for Tesco, which has 530 organic lines – likely to produce sales of 250m this year – said there was no intention to mislead.

In a separate ruling, Iceland was condemned for cashing in on public concerns over genetically modified foods, reports the Daily Express.

The ASA ruled its anti-GM food campaign was “alarmist” and contained “misleading” and “unsubstantiated” claims which would encourage fear among shoppers.

Iceland said it would contest the decision.

The same newspaper reports that Asda is to double its range of low-price organic lines after a 60% rise in their sales.

The chain will also slash up to a third off 150 organic lines over the next six months.

A spokesman for the store said this would give everybody who wanted organic food the chance to buy it.

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