Tesco cancels meat contract over Amazon cattle claims
TESCO has cancelled its contract with the world’s biggest meat exporter after Greenpeace claimed beef sold in the supermarket could be from cattle raised on illegally deforested areas of the Amazon.
The environmental charity claims to have tracked cattle from illegal farms in the Brazilian rainforest to slaughter houses and processing plants used by the exporter JBS.
Volunteers in the UK then checked supermarkets and found serial numbers on more than 100 tins of beef chunks, mince and corned beef that show the product came from the same processing plant.
Sarah Shoraka, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, said consumers would be appalled to think the tins of beef they are buying could be from farms responsible for destroying the Amazon.
JBS has written to Greenpeace and and its own customers, acknowledging its commitment to end the purchase of cattle from deforested land had faced "questions" but saying the company remained "fully committed" to finding meat from farms that are not involved in illegal activities.
Cattle farming is still the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon, driving climate change and loss of species.
"Tesco is driving this problem through its beef sourcing," she said.
In response, Tesco say they have now cancelled their contract with JBS.
“We started to cut back our supplies from JBS a year ago and have now ceased sourcing any canned beef products from JBS. Ethics and sustainability remain an important part of our dialogue with suppliers,” said a spokesman.
Ms Shoraka said: "We last met with Tesco over this issue on April 3 - we were very clear at that meeting about what we knew about their connection to JBS. They made no mention at the time of having taken any action or intending to take any, and they have not been in touch with us in the intervening two months to inform us of any action," she said.
"If what they say is true and they have decided to cut ties with JBS, that is great news for the Amazon, but before we could be satisfied this is the case, we'd want to know when they communicated this decision to JBS and why they failed to inform us of the move."
JBS told customers in its letter: "First and foremost, JBS remains fully committed to sourcing livestock from farms that are not involved in any illegal activities, including illegal deforestation, the invasion of indigenous lands or the use of any form of slavery.
"We accomplish these objectives through a monitoring system and control procedures over our supply base.
"JBS is proud to be part of a joint effort with NGOs, government, and other companies that has resulted in meaningful progress in protecting the Amazon through declining rates of deforestation."