Tesco apologises for "mental patient" costumes
* The leading supermarket removes "Psycho Ward" boiler suit
Tesco has withdrawn a Halloween costume from sale and apologised to customers after being criticised for stereotyping those suffering from mental illness.
Yesterday, Asda withdrew a product it advertised on its website as a "mental patient fancy dress costume".
Tesco followed suit today by removing its "Psycho Ward" costume.
"It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood," said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, an anti-stigma campaign run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
She urged retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds to avoid fuelling discrimination.
Asda was selling its costume, designed to look like a blood-splattered straitjacket, for £20 (€24).
Its advertisement featured a man wearing the straitjacket and wielding a meat cleaver.
"We'd like to offer our sincere apologies for the offence caused and will be making a sizeable donation to (mental illness charity) @MindCharity," the company said on its Twitter account.
Tesco's orange boiler suit costume, with "Psycho Ward" and "committed" written on it, was being sold for £18.45.
"We're really sorry for any offence this has caused and we are removing this product from sale," it said.
For Tesco and Asda it is a further public relations blow after both were implicated in a scandal this year over the discovery of horsemeat in products labelled as beef. The scandal triggered recalls of ready meals and damaged confidence in Europe's vast and complex food industry
Tesco in particular has suffered a series of setbacks to its reputation this year.
These include the sale of pork labelled as British that was probably Dutch, a misleading advertising campaign in response to the horsemeat scandal and a fine for misleading consumers over the pricing of strawberries.