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Horsemeat, food quality and safety standards: live webchat with Sainsbury's brand director Judith Batchelar, TODAY, 9.30-10.30am

(90 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Mar-13 13:36:50

We're welcoming the Director of Sainsbury's Brand Judith Batchelar for a webchat on Tuesday, 12 March, 9:30am-10:30am.

Judith is responsible for Sainsbury's food quality and safety standards, as well as its development work with British farmers and new product development.

She has worked in the food and drink industry for 29 years, is a biochemist and registered nutritionist.

While no horsemeat has been found in any of Sainsbury's products, Judith will be able to discuss the issue and tell you what to look for on labels and packaging to work out where food has come from, as well as giving advice on how you can balance value for money and ethical sourcing.

Do post your question in advance on this thread, or join us live on Tuesday 12 March, 9:30am-10:30am.

Many thanks

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Fri 15-Mar-13 12:03:01

Judith. Thank you for your reply. My fear is that the very minor measures you have outlined witll not be enough to sort of the problems in the town. I think a lot of people within the community agree with me

KateSMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 13-Mar-13 17:22:21

We now have some more answers from Judith which we're about to post up on the thread. We'll be posting up her final answers tomorrow

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:13:51

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes

Hello Judith. I've no doubt whatsoever that you'll ignore this post or at the very least claim that the issue I'm raising is not your area or similar, but I'm going to make my point anyway.

Some time ago I moved to a great town. In the heart of the town centre is a Sainsbury's. It is small and scruffy and the intention of Sainsburys was to expoand the store. Sainsburys set about buying up properties within the town centre with the intention of knocking them down eventually and building a superstore. However, the local people objected on the basis that the store would be too big at which point (and I say this as an observer, not somebody who was ever directly involved with the protest) Sainsbury's threw their toys out of the pram and have basically let the town cetntre rot. The place is like a ghost town and it's an absolute disgrace. No doubt it will serve as a warning to any other twon which dares to object to Sainsbury's. What your company has done is disgustig and it shows the contempt supermarkets such as yours have for local comminities.

I will not shop at Sainsbury's because of their behaviour. Good luck with your lovely touchy, feely webchat but everybody should be aware that Sainsbury's have been happy to see an entire community rot because that's what suits them.

We had genuine intentions to redevelop our store and regenerate the surrounding area back and were disappointed not to be able to secure the opportunity to do this.

We take our responsibilities as a landlord very seriously and in Crosby Village our colleagues actively maintain a working relationship with our tenants. It is not in our interests to leave units vacant and we promote the letting of empty units.

We have plans for some amendments in the near future to the store's entrance lobby, ATM and some equipment on the store's roof, for which a planning application has been submitted. We hope that these changes, although minor, will improve the shopping experience for our customers and make the best of our existing store.

Finally, as part of our commitment to support the communities where we have stores all of our stores and depots take part in our Local Charity of the Year scheme. Last year colleagues volunteered more than 7,000 days and Sainsbury’s raised £28 million for good causes with the funds helping over 1,000 local and national charities and community groups.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:11:25

Merguez

My local Sainsbury's is a medium-size store in a rural town. Why did you stop selling organic whole chickens there?

And why is the only organic milk available in plastic bottles, I prefer a tetrapak?

Why do you sell organic sausages and bacon but not organic ham?

Could you let me know which store you shop at and I will come back to you?

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:10:36

Nikced

ItsAllGoingToBeFine good question, I'd like to know too. Also SwearyBear.

With Chickens/eggs I know to buy organic/free range. Is there something that does the same for pork/beef etc? We are all veggies except Ds who does like bacon, I always get bacon that says 'from British/UK pigs, produced/processed in Britain/UK. Does this mean animal welfare has been ok?

Yy with the voucher thing, I didn't realise your 'saving money' vouchers had a 'use by' date! I had a few saved up and they were all out of date, really wasn't happy! Might as well go to the shop that was cheaper at the time rather than not have a saving. Short dates not clear in your adverts or by your staff - until the one that scoffed at me when the vouchers didn't work!-

When our bacon isn't British from British pigs we say so on the front of the packet. We only buy Danish bacon from Danish pigs raised to the same standards as British pigs.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:09:01

Furball

I'm glad to see Sainsburys have switched to British chicken in all it's ready meals - fresh and frozen.

I was always put off buying it when it was labelled

This chicken is from either Brazil or Holland

or sometimes

This chicken is from either Thailand or the EU

It wasn't appealing in the slightest

and doubling the amount of british food you sell is also a big tick from me. smile

Hello Furball

I am glad our plans to source more British food please you. All of our whole frozen and fresh chicken has been British for over six years. It's true that all the chicken in our fresh ready meals is also 100% British but we aren't there yet on frozen chicken ready meals and haven't claimed to be. We are working on it though!

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:07:46

SwearyBear

I feel misled on a number of food issues - particularly the origin of products. It concerns me that conditions, welfare and feed might be sub-standard. especially when middlemen are involved. E.g. chickens from Malaysia and Brazil which become legally British following de-skinning at a British depot after shipping. Sold with Union Jack branding.

I am wondering if you can provide a percentage of meat sold by Sainsbury's that is born, raised and slaughtered in the UK - not just able to say its British because it underwent some form of processing in the UK (after import).

I think this issue requires some leadership that Sainsbury's could bring.

We always source products to the same high standards whether they are produced in the UK, or abroad.

The British meat in our products comes from animals born and bred in the UK and btw the same is true of our cheddar cheese which is made from British milk from British cows.

All of our fresh chicken has been British for over ten years and all of our frozen chicken has been British for over six years. All of the chicken in our fresh ready meals, pies, sandwiches, quiches and soups is also 100% British and we have begun using British chicken in our frozen chicken ready meals. We don't source chicken from Malaysia or Brazil.

We are proud to have led the way on country of origin labelling and it's great that EU legislation will also now be making requirements on country of origin labelling.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:05:55

redwellybluewelly

Two questions

We buy oatley calcium enriched for our dairy and soy allergic daughter, however she doesn't always drink the large carton without it going off. I'd love to have packs of two or three smaller cartons available, could you talk to the supplier? I know this is possible with rice milk but we can't give her that as she is too young.

Please could you stock dairy/soy free pea protein yogurts.

Why can't foods have the distance they have travelled shown on the label somehow? With many fresh foods it would be nice to know how far they have travelled from a carbon footprint perspective.

As someone said up thread have sainsburys just been lucky re the horsemeat scandal?

And lastly, offering money off or saving vouchers for two weeks not a week would persuade me to shop at sainsburys more, lost count of how many times I've missed money off by a day. Or give the option of extra points on nectar card rather than "heres 23p off your shop next time" - tjis annoys me.

Thanks for suggesting smaller packets of oatley calcium. We have talked to our supplier about this. At the moment they don’t have the right equipment to produce smaller packets but never say never.

We are always looking at new ways of giving information about our products. It's a balance between giving information people want and not putting so much information on the packaging that you cannot find what you want.

Sorry to hear you have missed out on saving some money. Our Brand Match vouchers are valid for two weeks.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:04:32

SingSongMummy

I'm with Kveta and mrscog on the sugar free fromage frais question. We used to buy these every week as did most of my local mum friends and we've all been wondering why they were removed and replaced with a sugary version!

Thanks for letting me know. I hope you saw my answer to Kveta – we are looking at this range.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:03:46

ClaraOswinOswald

What are Sainsbury's doing to help combat the huge food waste issue we have in the UK? When so much fruit and veg doesn't even reach the shelves it makes me think the consumer is not the only one wasting vast quantities of food.

I'd be happy to buy wonky cucumbers, carrots etc. knowing I was cutting down on waste.

I agree that cutting down on waste needs to be a priority. None of Sainsbury's food waste goes to landfill. Instead we donate any surplus food to charities and any waste not fit for consumption, goes to anaerobic digestion to generate renewable energy.

We have responded to one of the worst growing seasons farmers have experienced in decades by changing our approach to 'ugly' fruit and vegetables allowing food that would previously have been wasted to be sold.

You might find these websites interesting:

www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/meal-planning/makeyourroastgofurther/

www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:01:53

tuffie

Why do Sainsbury's still source so many products from outside the UK ?
Surely it is in Sainsbury's interests to support UK farmers and manufacturers as in the long run this will strengthen the UK economy which will in turn mean people have more money to buy more products from them.
Surely it is in Sainsbury's long term interest to help create a strong UK economy ?

I agree that we should support British farmers and growers. We already buy a lot of British food and have ambitious plans to double the amount of British food we sell by 2020.

I gave more detail about our work with British farmers in my earlier answer to Jcee. I hope you saw that.

There is more information on our website –

www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/responsibility/20x20/best-for-british/

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 17:00:37

ClaraOswinOswald

What are Sainsbury's doing to help combat the huge food waste issue we have in the UK? When so much fruit and veg doesn't even reach the shelves it makes me think the consumer is not the only one wasting vast quantities of food.

I'd be happy to buy wonky cucumbers, carrots etc. knowing I was cutting down on waste.

I agree that cutting down on waste needs to be a priority. None of Sainsbury's food waste goes to landfill. Instead we donate any surplus food to charities and any waste not fit for consumption, goes to anaerobic digestion to generate renewable energy.

We have responded to one of the worst growing seasons farmers have experienced in decades by changing our approach to 'ugly' fruit and vegetables allowing food that would previously have been wasted to be sold.

You might find these websites interesting:

www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/meal-planning/makeyourroastgofurther/

www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 16:57:28

ItsAllGoingToBeFine

What can you put into a food product without it appearing on the ingredients list at all?

UK labelling legislation that defines what needs to be included in an ingredients list is some of the most rigorous in the world; and new legislation which needs to be implemented by Dec 2014 will be even more thorough - including country of origin labelling.

Ingredients used in a product need to be listed on pack but there are a few anomalies for example 'natural foods' like yoghurt don’t need to declare the ingredients in the yoghurt itself only the added ingredients like strawberries,or sugar and wines currently don’t need to carry an ingredients list although the EU is looking at this.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 16:54:57

Shakey1500

Agree with more ideas for lunchboxes.

My question is- what are your views on today's (07/03/13) news regarding processed meats and long term health risks? Pretty staggering statistics I thought.

Yes it's very interesting research. It's a reminder that we should eat all things in moderation.

JudithBatchelar Wed 13-Mar-13 16:51:55

dreamingofsun

how do i ensure sausages are made of good quality meat and not just the poor quality pieces that you would never normally even consider buying?

The key thing to look for in sausages is the amount of meat and where it’s from. This should be declared as a percentage in the ingredients list. You should also check that the ingredients list only contains things you recognise.

In all our sausages we use wholesome meat that you could buy at a butcher.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 11:45:57

This is where the conversation ends. I refuse to engage with anybody who uses the phrase 'I called you on...'

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 11:23:52

Lol,a stalker because I called you on your rudeness,oh please!
No I don't work for sainsburys,I don't even shop there!
Thanks for the biscuit btw,very predictable though

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 11:00:03

Haha. I've got myself a stalker.
Either you are the Marketing Director of Sainsburys or you are an actual mum who'll soon realise Mumsnet isn't the site for you.
As for rude and snide...pot and kettle.
Either way, have yourself a biscuit definitely not a Sainsburys one

openerofjars Tue 12-Mar-13 10:59:27

I don't know if I missed the boat here, but can you stock the full Alpro lactofree range in more stores? I can only get the butter in the big Archer Road store in Sheffield and I can't find the ice cream anywhere now. Thanks!

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 10:42:19

Maybe you don't care what others think but your whole tone and approach was rude.You may well be in the right with what you are saying,I dont know and I'm not interested to be honest.
How about having the courtesy to acknowledge the person rather than coming back with another snarky post?
You actually get further in life by being civil and not storming in on the defensive,if I was Judith I wouldn't have bothered replying to you.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 10:34:28

I'd literally only just moved to the town when the protests were underway hmm

If you think my comments were snidely or rude, frankly I don't care. I care about a community that's suffering and if you'd care to google the subject you'd see that I have a point hmm

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:31:12

Thank you for spending part of your morning with me - I'll be coming back to the questions I was unable to answer in the hour. I hope my responses were helpful and informative. I've really enjoyed chatting with you all!

sonnyandluca Tue 12-Mar-13 10:29:36

It may have changed then since we last shopped there but it was the Urmston branch and the choice of loose potato was a generic 'white' potato or baked.

Maybe being a little picky but we used to have a choice of a few different types.

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 10:28:18

Justgivemefiveminutes-you asked your question,and despite it being written very arsey you got an answer.why don't you wait for a reply instead of coming back with more snide comments.
If you felt that strongly why didn't you protest against it in the first place or contact sainsburys yourself instead of coming on here with your rude tone.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:27:13

LoganMummy

Will Sainsbury be introducing smart food labels that colour change as the food goes off? Seems a good idea to stop wastage.

We are always looking at ways to help our customers to waste less food. For example we've recently changed all of our freezing guidelines to say 'freeze up until use by date' instead of 'freeze on day of purchase'. We are also in the process of changing all our date-code labels to either 'best before' or 'use by' as we know customers were confused by 'display until' dates.

New technology such as smart labels gives us a real opportunity to move this on again and we're at the moment looking at how we can use these developments in areas such as cooked meats.

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