Horsemeat: Tesco boss makes consumer pledge

Chief executive of Tesco Philip Clarke has promised customers that the supermarket will improve the transparency of its supply chain in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

Clarke appeared on a video in the email inboxes of Tesco customers at the weekend, where he explained that nothing was more important to Tesco than the trust of its customers. “And that trust depends on the quality of the products we sell,” he said.

He explained that, since Tesco became aware of the “small number of Tesco processed meat products” contaminated with horsemeat, people in the company had been working “flat out” to get to the bottom of the issue. He said that while tests continued, he wanted to make a “clear promise” to customers and to tell “you about the rigorous processes we have put in place to prevent this situation happening again”.

Clarke promised: “We will set a new benchmark for the testing of products, to give you confidence that if it isn’t on the label, it isn’t in the product. And that will be backed up by an industry-leading commitment to enable you to find out much more about what’s in the food we sell and how it’s produced.”


He also said he had asked his team to review Tesco’s approach to the supply chain and to ensure there was “visibility” and “transparency” within it. It was also explained that Tesco would “come back with a plan to build a world-class traceability and DNA testing system”.

As part of its promise, the company is also building a website to allow customers to see the “progress” Tesco is making with its testing programme. He said the website will reveal which products have been tested, allowing customers to keep abreast of where the company is in the process.

Open supply chain

An open supply chain was pledged by Clarke, who said: “Over the weeks and months ahead, we will open up our supply chain, and give you more information than any retailer has before to enable you to make informed choices about the food you buy for your family.”

As a result of the open supply chain and testing, Clarke and the company are conscious that some products may be withdrawn from sale. Referring to this, he said: “I am determined that no customer will lose out as a result of the testing process we are going through. So from Saturday 16 February if a product is tested and then withdrawn from sale, we will provide you with a better alternative for the same cost. You can find more details at your local store.”


He added that these promises were just the beginning and said it was Tesco’s responsibility to lead on the issue. Priorities now lie with completing the testing, he said. “Where changes are needed, we’ll make sure they are made. And let me be clear that this doesn’t mean more expensive food – it just means doing things the right way, and accepting nothing less than the highest possible standards in the supply chain.”