Peter Marks apologises to customers and promises greater supply chain rigour following meat scandal

17 February 2013

The Co-operative Group

Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive, undertook a round of radio and television interviews on Friday (15 Feb). This followed the first round of results from the mass testing of products requested by the Food Standards Agency. This included the results for 78 of our own brand products which proved negative for horsemeat contamination. Previous testing has already resulted in us removing two lines of our own brand quarter pounder burgers from store shelves.

Speaking on the BBC 1’s Six O’clock and Ten O’clock news Peter said:

“We want to say a big apology. Food retailers can’t duck this. We can’t blame the government, we can’t blame the regulator – the FSA – we can’t blame our suppliers. When we sell products in our shops it’s our responsibility.”

Earlier on BBC Radio Five Live Peter told presenter Peter Allen:

“This is a big wake-up call for the whole industry. Putting greater rigour into the supply chain will cost and the industry has to absorb those costs. We cannot pass those costs onto the consumer.”

When pressed by BBC Radio 4’s Philippa Thomas on the question of additional cost to the retailing industry Peter responded:

“We don’t expect customers to pay for our mistakes. We have to find efficiencies and we have to work harder.”

Speaking to Channel 4’s News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Peter said The Co-operative was one retailer that was not hiding away from an issue that went to the very heart of our reason for existing:

“We were founded in the 19th century because of this kind of thing, people selling adulterated food. We have to stand up and be counted. We have to take full responsibility as retailers…I think there is no doubt that there has been a breakdown of trust and confidence in all retailers. Given the fact that The Co-operative sets itself up as a business that people can trust, we take that very seriously and we intend to put it right.”

In all of the interviews carried out on Friday (15 Feb 2013), Peter said we would improve the rigour of our testing and take a closer look at our supply chain to ensure it is transparent.