Excuse me, there’s a bug in my turkey

26% of the British population, an estimated 16m people, shop at Tesco every week and I am one of them. Generally, I think it’s a reasonable shop and I’ve never had any ill effects or need to complain. Until today.

Shopping for a culinary extravaganza later this evening I browsed the turkey. It’s all pre-packaged and all looked fine, until a customer next to me started laughing and pointing at one of the packets. There was a bug in it. He was a tourist here on holiday, and found the whole experience very amusing. I’m not sure where he was from, but he didn’t seem to particularly care, and grabbed the next nearest one.

Naturally, I kicked up a fuss on his behalf. After last week’s Panorama investigation into out-of-date food (and other horrors) prepared at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s, I was pretty shocked. The bug appeared to have wings but, from what I could see, had embedded itself into the turkey. God knows where it had been before it landed on this particular strip of exquisite meat.

Tesco’s response was revealing and encouraging. The bloke I approached was absolutely shocked and went into a mild panic, telling me he had to find his manager. “I’m meant to report this, I’ve got to report this,” and so he did. 10 minutes later the manager had been coaxed down from his office onto the floor who was very, very wary of me indeed but apologetic and assured me it would be looked into. According to him, it will be sent away for testing. What about all the other food there? He was less certain – and of course, there’s not a lot Tesco can do short of issuing a public health warning that some meat bought on May 27 from Hammersmith might be infected or contaminated. And they won’t do that unless absolutely necessary for fear of eating into their vast profits.

The manager ordered all of “that batch” of food be taken off the shelf, but the damage has already been done. The shop was closing, the bought food now winging its way across London into people’s kitchens. No one will be any the wiser and, if someone is ill, then so be it.

It was a lesson though. I tend to pick stuff up, make sure it’s not blue or green etc and hopefully find something that isn’t coated in fat, and that’s that. But to see an actual bug, a fly, nestling in the meat…it does make you think.

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