Monday, 3 March 2014

Top chef accuses Tesco: 'If you care about our oceans, take this tuna off your shelves'

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says supermarket is backtracking on its public pledge to sell sustainable fish

The Observer, Sunday 2 March 2014

Tesco is facing the wrath of TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and environmental pressure group Greenpeace after stocking a cut-price brand of tuna linked to a controversial fishing method that can kill sharks, rays and turtles.

The supermarket switched its own-label canned tuna to environmentally friendly pole-and-line caught sources in 2012 in a high-profile change after criticism from Fearnley-Whittingstall and his Fish Fight campaign. But later the same year Tesco began to stock the Oriental & Pacific brand of tuna, which is caught using the purse seine method – where large nets scoop up all kinds of ocean creatures attracted by floating rafts known as fish aggregation devices.

While brands stocked by other retailers, including John West and Princes, also use this fishing method to some extent, they have taken some action to reduce its use. Oriental & Pacific's owner, LDH, which is partly controlled by John West, has made no such pledge.

Fearnley-Whittingstall, who will again highlight the continued problem of overfishing in his Channel 4 programme Hugh's Fish Fight, said: "Tesco made one of the biggest commitments of all to sell the most sustainable tuna. If they really care about our oceans, then Tesco should take this [Ocean & Pacific] tuna off the shelves today and other supermarkets must follow suit."

The chef's attack is the latest blow to Tesco's efforts to reinvent itself as a caring retailer interested in the quality and ethics of the food it sells.

Last week farmers said the supermarket had cut back the amount of British beef it bought, despite taking out full-page adverts in the wake of the horsemeat scandal claiming: "We know that the more we work with British farmers the better."

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