Pubs furious at lack of support over cancer food scare

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Licensees have been left outraged and confused by the lack of information about how the cancer food scare is affecting pubs.Some pubs were still...

Licensees have been left outraged and confused by the lack of information about how the cancer food scare is affecting pubs.

Some pubs were still openly selling banned products, such as Schweppes' Tomato Juice Cocktail mix, this week five days after the scare broke. All pubs selling banned products are now liable for prosecution.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has so far identified more than 450 products contaminated by a batch of Worcester sauce, which contained chilli powder made with a banned dye.

The list also contains Walkers Worcester Sauce crisps, as well as a range of products supplied by Booker and Brakes. Many licensees claim they have not been contacted by their suppliers to advise them that they were stocking contaminated products.

Danny Scott, licensee of Rick's Bar in Greenwich, South London, said he did not think he would be affected as he is a wet-led operation.

"I scanned the FSA list when I saw the news about Worcester sauce but I did not know about the Schweppes Tomato juice," he said. "It's coming off the shelf now. I am sure there are a lot of publicans out there who don't know about this either."

Debbie Brooks, licensee of the Surrey Cricketers in Croydon, said she had also been using products that were on the list.

"It's terrible - I read about it in the national newspapers but I have not heard from our food suppliers," she said. "Enterprise Inns called to tell us about withdrawing the tomato juice and have brought us the Britvic alternative. But there is no clarification and up to Tuesday I was selling everything."

Yvonne Ward, licensee of the Brown Cow in Pontefract, Yorkshire, said: "I did a complete stock check but I expected more information from our suppliers."

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) said pubs should remove any affected products from sale immediately. "All customers who purchased and received delivery of Schweppes Tomato Juice Cocktail directly from CCE were contacted within approximately 24 hours," said a spokeswoman. "They have been asked to immediately isolate stock and if they have onward customers they have been informed about starting their own withdrawal process from their customers."

PepsiCo, owner of the Walkers brand, said it had stopped production of Worcester Sauce crisps "until further notice" and asked for them to be removed from sale.

However as this article was posted, they were still widely on sale near The Publican's offices in Croydon, Surrey. Brakes said it was in touch with customers who have been supplied with the products, and was arranging for collection.

Booker's marketing director Mark Collier said customers could return affected products, adding: "We will keep customers fully informed as Booker becomes aware of any other products affected".

FSA chief executive Dr Jon Bell warned that because of the widespread use of Worcester sauce, more affected products could be added to the list.

Related articles:

More items added to contaminated foods list (22 February 2005)

Pub trade products on contaminated foods list (21 February 2005)

Premier Foods recall unlikely to dent long-term profits (21 February 2005)

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