UK: Waitrose denies hypocrisy over "precautionary" burger recall
Waitrose has denied that its criticism of other retailers over the horse meat scandal is hypocritical, after the group confirmed it has withdrawn batches of its own frozen beef burgers as a precautionary measure.
Waitrose managing director Mark Price was quoted in an interview with Reuters yesterday (23 January) as saying the finding of horse meat DNA in beef burgers was "inevitable", given the intense competition on price between the UK's top supermarkets.
However, Waitrose confirmed today that it, too, has been forced to pull frozen burgers from shelves due to using one of the suppliers caught up in the horse meat scandal, Dalepak.
"We only use beef from British farms in all our fresh and frozen burgers and ready meals," a Waitrose spokesperson said in a statement. "As a consequence we are 100% confident in the integrity of our supply chain.
"Our technical team visited the Dalepak site last week and were happy that our products were produced to our high specification, and separately from other companies' products. Ours are produced at 6am before other any other burgers."
However, Waitrose said that it was forced to act after the British Retail Consortium suspended its accreditation of the Dalepak factory. Accredition is believed to have been restored, as of yesterday.
"As a further precaution our frozen burgers were sent for testing and they tested negative for any species other than beef," said Waitrose. Frozen burgers makes up 8% of the retailer's total burger sales.
After news broke last week of the initial finding of horse DNA in beef burgers on sale in Ireland and the UK, analysts at Shore Capital suggested that any retailers seeking to gain a competitive advantage in the situation could be playing with fire.
"Adopting the 'but for the grace of God' principle, we would also be surprised if retailers not yet implicated in this case of adulteration seek to make commercial advantage," the analysts said.
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