Tesco in strife over dirty tuna

The brands named and shamed by Greenpeace as ‘Dirty tuna’ The brands named and shamed by Greenpeace as ‘Dirty tuna’
Industry Database

The UK’s largest supermarket, Tesco, has come in last place compared to other leading supermarkets in a Greenpeace tuna sustainability league table highlighted by Channel 4’s Fish Fight programme.

Greenpeace has accused Tesco of misleading the public because despite making a public pledge to only use 100% pole and line caught tuna back in 2012, it now stocks a cut-price brand of ‘dirty’ tuna, Oriental & Pacific, which is caught in a way that can kill sharks, rays, and turtles.

Ariana Densham, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner, said: “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.”

The supermarket has also been singled out by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in Channel 4’s Fish Fight programme recently. The programme has accused it of being the first supermarket to re-introduce unsustainable tuna on to shelves after the successful public campaign to remove so called ‘dirty’ tuna from UK supermarkets in 2011.

Tesco refutes the claims. A spokesperson said told World Fishing & Aquaculture: "The Greenpeace assessment is simply wrong. We moved much faster than many of our competitors to make sure our own-brand tuna is 100% pole and line.

We have also promised to use sustainable tuna in other products like pastas, sandwiches and salads. Many of our competitors continue to sell non-pole and line caught tuna. Customers have a great choice of sustainable tuna at Tesco."

The spokesperson did point out though that Tesco will insist that Oriental & Pacific makes a similar commitment to other branded suppliers who are working towards a more sustainable fishing policy.

Greenpeace said that Oriental & Pacific is the only brand on UK supermarket shelves with no promise or guarantee to eliminate unsustainably caught tuna from its supply chain. The Fish Fight programme has called for all Tesco and all supermarkets to take this tuna off the shelves.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has praised Sainsbury’s as its ‘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 - more than any other retailer.

A ‘100% Improved’ award went to Morrisons because the retailer improved its offering the most since the last league table in 2011, when only 50% of its own-brand tinned tuna was caught sustainably, it's now up to 100%.

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