A new ethical share index, the FTSE4Good indices, was launched today by the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange, but Tesco and Safeway were not included.

The British supermarket giants were among 26 of Britain’s top 100 companies that failed to make it onto the 757-strong list of ethical businesses. Fellow excluded enterprises included tobacco, weapons and nuclear power companies.

A report accompanying the index noted that many companies were excluded due to a lack of information about ethical practices, rather than any positive evidence of unethical practices.

Those who made the grade were judged in terms of how they impact on the environment, and their stance on human rights and social issues.

Tesco was accused of failing to meet the appropriate environmental criteria, but FTSE CEO Mark Makepeace was quoted in the Financial Times as noting, “if you are a high impact company, then the hurdles are higher”. Tesco has responded by stressing that the company takes corporate social responsibility very seriously.

Safeway maintained that it will make the list, as the only barrier to its inclusion was a “clerical error”.