Retailers under fire

Tesco and Sainsbury's have come under fire for allegedly decieving customers about the freshness and quality of meat and even potentially risking consumers' health.

An undercover documentary from the BBC, Whistleblower, shown tonight, alleged some of the retailers' stores were changing sell-by dates on meat and in one instance mixing cooked mince with raw.

Reporter Audrey Brown, who worked undercover for four months, said: "A lot of the time, the counter staff [in one Tesco store] treated the meat with indifference and worringly there were times at Tesco when they had no idea what the real sell-by date was as they had altered it so many times."

Sainsbury's also came under fire: "The counter manager at Sainsbury's regularly asked me to extend the dates on deli items because they smelt "OK". She offered reassurance by saying that she often had food past its sell-by date hanging about in her fridge at home."

She attributed the situation to a culture of "penny-pinching" at both retailers and said she witnessed a "blatant disregard" for customers' health.

A statement from Sainsbury's said: "As a result [of the BBC evidence] we have identified some instances where our procedures had not been followed correctly at that store and have taken the necessary action to ensure these matters are addressed."

The retailer said the incident was not representative of the high standards it maintains throughout its chain.

A Tesco spokesman told the BBC: "We are satisfied that any incidents captured on film were not representative of the high standards we insist on."