Are supermarkets conning customers with 'misleading' packaging? Tory MP hits out at Tesco's 'oversized' packets

Supermarkets are under fire from consumers for misleading them with the packaging they put on certain food items.

The issue hit the headlines after Tory party deputy chairman James Cleverly hit out at Tesco for what he called “cynical” packaging on a pack of beef short ribs.

Tweeting pictures of the packaging and then the meat inside – including a large gap between two ribs hidden by the label, Mr Cleverly wrote: “I think this packaging is a bit cynical. If there is a good reason for that big gap I’m happy to hear it”.

Tesco responded to the MP for Braintree, saying: “The price and weight of a product are always clearly labelled on the packaging.

“With this product, there needs to be a gap between each piece to ensure that a proper seal occurs to guarantee freshness and quality.”


But Mr Cleverly then tweeted a picture of a pack of cod loins – again with a gap underneath the label where you might assume there would be food.

With the second picture, he asked: “and what about this one?”

But while Mr Cleverly’s complaint has received widespread attention, he’s not the first to raise concerns about the impression certain packaging can give compared to the reality of the product.

For many consumers, the gripe seems to be oversized boxes or packets that make you assume you’re getting more than you actually are.

For ‘infinitemokneys’, Waitrose were at fault for putting two frozen battered haddock fillets in a box deemed “big enough for 6”.

“It seems naive not to see this as an attempt to increase sales by deceiving customers about the size of the food they are buying,” the tweet added.

And Shayne Caple hit out at sandwich chain Pret a Manger for appearing to make a sandwich look larger than it is by cutting it in half and leaving a gap between the two halves.

Elsewhere one consumer accused Quaker of deliberately packing three inch long snack bars in a box twice that length, while Co op was accused of putting fewer pitta breads in packets than they were sold as.

And other brands have fallen under fire for using misleading images of what’s inside the packet, leaving customers disappointed.

Samantha Sainsbury voiced her disappointment to McVities after assuming that a picture of a Jaffa Cake with a heart-shaped orange centre meant the contents inside would be the same, while ‘Mind your own’ said the photo on some Aldi whitebait suggested it would come with a dip – which it didn’t.

(Top picture: Twitter/James Cleverly)