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Tesco Under Fire for Selling ‘Dirty’ Tuna

07 March 2014

UK - The UK’s biggest supermarket, Tesco, has come in last place against other leading supermarkets in a tuna sustainability league table released by Greenpeace.

According to Greenpeace, Tesco are coming under fire for misleading the public as shortly after meeting their public pledge to clean up their own-brand tinned tuna in 2012, Tesco began to stock a cut-price brand of ‘dirty’ tuna, Oriental & Pacific, which is caught in a way that can kill sharks, rays, and turtles. Greenpeace is accusing Tesco of hypocrisy and of undermining their public commitment to ocean protection.

The supermarket is singled out for criticism from both Greenpeace and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in Fish Fight, aired on Channel 4, for being the first supermarket to re-introduce unsustainable tuna on to supermarket shelves after a successful public campaign to remove ‘dirty’ tuna from supermarkets in the UK in 2011.

Oriental & Pacific comes last in the league table overall because it is the most unsustainable tuna available to consumers in the surveyed supermarkets.

The parent company of Oriental & Pacific tuna confirmed to Greenpeace that much of it is caught unsustainably, using a fishing method known to also catch and sometimes kill sharks, rays and turtles.

It is the only brand on UK supermarket shelves with no promise or guarantee to eliminate unsustainably caught tuna from its supply chain, in order to avoid catching endangered ocean creatures either now or in the future.

Ariana Densham, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner said: “Tesco is at the bottom of the pile of supermarkets because as soon as they achieved their bold promise to use 100 per cent pole and line tuna in their own-brand tins, they immediately started refilling their shelves with ‘dirty’ tuna that is caught in a way that can kill turtles, sharks and rays.

Oriental & Pacific is 100 per cent ‘dirty’ with zero per cent effort to clean up their act. This is pure hypocrisy from Tesco - the supermarket that promised to be totally up front about where the food that they sell us comes from is now rolling back their pledge to protect the oceans.”

Greenpeace praise Sainsbury’s as a ‘Top Tuna Supermarket’ for having remained at the forefront of tuna sustainability for many years. Nearly three quarters of all the tinned tuna Sainsbury's sells is sustainable which is more than any other retailer.

An ‘100 per cent Improved’ award is given to Morrisons, because it improved the most since the last league table in 2011, when only 50 per cent of their own-brand tinned tuna was caught sustainably, now it’s 100 per cent.

Ariana Densham continued: “Morrisons joins Sainsbury’s as a market leader on tuna sustainability. They have eliminated unsustainable tuna from their products which is great news for sharks, turtles and rays. If Tesco wants to catch up with the front runners and win back consumer confidence, they must take this dirty tuna off their shelves today.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "The Fish Fight and Greenpeace tuna campaign has been a huge success - our supermarkets and big tuna brands all told us they didn't want their names on unsustainable tuna, but a number of them are finding new ways to keep 'dirty' tuna on the shelves.

Tesco made one of the biggest commitments of all to sell the most sustainable tuna, but as our new Fish Fight programme shows, they now stock a new brand called Oriental and Pacific, which is caught using methods that accidentally catch and kill endangered animals like turtles, rays and sharks.

"There's no information on Oriental and Pacific tins to tell shoppers how the tuna was caught. If they really care about our oceans then Tesco should take this tuna off the shelves today, and other supermarkets must follow suit."

TheMeatSite News Desk

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