Horse and pork meat caused scandal in the UK food chain

Some supermarkets in the UK have been caught by the Food Standards Agency for selling beef which in some cases contain up to 99% horse or pork DNA. Supermarkets obviously have suppliers which aren’t necessarily all from the UK. As a result of an internal investigation by the supermarkets, it appeared that the meat in question was supplied from countries like Poland and Romania, as well as the UK itself. It is a very hard time for all supermarkets as the public don’t know which supermarket they can trust. Supermarkets are in hot water, as well as their suppliers and all concerned have published apologies, however the British press and media picked up on a very important point; timing of apology.

Unfortunately not all supermarkets and suppliers in midst of this scandal acted swiftly. This lack of responsiveness left plenty of room for speculation; which made the situation even worse for themselves by losing consumer confidence and trust. On a different note, even some evidence showed pork DNA in Halal meals served in number of British prisons; and the government acted swiftly and immediately on that.

One supermarket didn’t need to apologise but felt they need to assure their customers that their beef is 100% beef; that supermarket is called Waitrose.

Waitrose are doing a good job on Twitter with regards to horse meat scandal in the UK. The supermarket has been giving assurance to all their customers. They don’t throw words at people; they give evidence for what they say and do this with confidence. In simple words, this is just great! They clearly communicate with their customers in-stores in simple and plain English, and they do this through their staff; what makes their words believable.  The supermarket also monitor all relevant conversations on Twitter and step in to further assure the public about their meat products.

To their credit, staff working at Waitrose are well trained and educated to give confidence and assurance to customers. Below is a conversation on Twitter about the confidence level of customers buying beef burger from Waitrose:

British Supermarkets Food horse pork dna meat

Although such conversations aren’t detrimental to Waitrose’s brand reputation, but Waitrose decided to step in to once again use the popular breaking news platform, Twitter, to assure everyone that they use 100% British beef from their very own selected farms:

food horse meet pork dan

Being responsive and professional at all times is key to any business; and Waitrose just did it well. This says a lot about their business ethos and clear communications planning. As it is clear above, Waitrose very systematically integrate offline and online messages with a single tone of voice. It seems Waitrose is amongst those businesses that fully understand and appreciate the power and value of content.

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Ehsan has been working in social media and digital PR since 2006. He is a keen blogger and has over 40 published articles. He has spoken about social media and digital branding at the British Chamber of Commerce, University of Westminster, University of Milan and numerous startup communities in Europe. Michigan State University and Miami University have referenced his work in their study of social media in 2012.