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Horsemeat, food quality and safety standards: live webchat with Sainsbury's brand director Judith Batchelar, TODAY, 9.30-10.30am

(90 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Mar-13 13:36:50

We're welcoming the Director of Sainsbury's Brand Judith Batchelar for a webchat on Tuesday, 12 March, 9:30am-10:30am.

Judith is responsible for Sainsbury's food quality and safety standards, as well as its development work with British farmers and new product development.

She has worked in the food and drink industry for 29 years, is a biochemist and registered nutritionist.

While no horsemeat has been found in any of Sainsbury's products, Judith will be able to discuss the issue and tell you what to look for on labels and packaging to work out where food has come from, as well as giving advice on how you can balance value for money and ethical sourcing.

Do post your question in advance on this thread, or join us live on Tuesday 12 March, 9:30am-10:30am.

Many thanks

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:05:51


I'm with the other O/Ps the vouchers are so annoying esp when they could simply be added to my nectar card.
What I don't understand is how the horsemeat could have ever entered into the food chain in the first place. Surely this signals an awful lack of awareness as to where the meat is coming from or a total lack of concern by the Supermarkets.
So how can you guarantee 100% that Sainsbury's is horsefree and more importantly what do you think should be done in the future to ensure we can trust the Supermarkets on our high streets.

To your question on horse meat - the first point to make is that this issue is now a formal police investigation because criminal activity has led to horse meat being sold as beef in the supply chain. The second point is that most of the positive findings on horse meat have been in the food service sector, not in supermarkets. However, although at Sainsbury's we have not found horse meat in our products, we are well aware that customers' trust in the food industry in general has suffered. We are not complacent about this - as I have said in my answer to 1991all.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:10:01


Hello Judith. I've no doubt whatsoever that you'll ignore this post or at the very least claim that the issue I'm raising is not your area or similar, but I'm going to make my point anyway.

Some time ago I moved to a great town. In the heart of the town centre is a Sainsbury's. It is small and scruffy and the intention of Sainsburys was to expoand the store. Sainsburys set about buying up properties within the town centre with the intention of knocking them down eventually and building a superstore. However, the local people objected on the basis that the store would be too big at which point (and I say this as an observer, not somebody who was ever directly involved with the protest) Sainsbury's threw their toys out of the pram and have basically let the town cetntre rot. The place is like a ghost town and it's an absolute disgrace. No doubt it will serve as a warning to any other twon which dares to object to Sainsbury's. What your company has done is disgustig and it shows the contempt supermarkets such as yours have for local comminities.

I will not shop at Sainsbury's because of their behaviour. Good luck with your lovely touchy, feely webchat but everybody should be aware that Sainsbury's have been happy to see an entire community rot because that's what suits them.


Sorry to hear you feel this way. Could you let me know which Sainsbury’s store you are referring to? I would like to come back to you about this. Our aim is always to have a positive impact - in both the communities that our stores serve and the communities from which we source products.

Giggi Tue 12-Mar-13 10:10:07

Just being nosey really but wondered if there had been any shifts in what people are buying in Sainsbury's since the scandal started... more chicken? Fish? Veggie? Will the beef farmers suffer economically - or do you think they will be OK as folks will still buy pure beef just not processed foods?

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 10:10:53


JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:13:27


How do companies actually test products? Can the process be trusted? Is there an independent body doing it on a regular basis or are we relying on the supermarkets or suppliers to tell us? I can't actually remember how the scandal started - who first found the horse meat?

The Irish Food Safety Authority (IFSA) were the first to find horse meat in a number of products produced in Ireland and sold in Ireland and the UK. The IFSA is an independent body working on behalf of government to test products for authenticity, provenance, food safety and contamination. In addition all suppliers, brand owners and retailers will have their own bespoke testing and auditing programmes.

My response to notcitrus goes into more detail about how we test our products at Sainsbury's.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:14:06



thank you - we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:10


Just being nosey really but wondered if there had been any shifts in what people are buying in Sainsbury's since the scandal started... more chicken? Fish? Veggie? Will the beef farmers suffer economically - or do you think they will be OK as folks will still buy pure beef just not processed foods?

We have seen some people buying more chicken and fish rather than beef but it's too soon to know if this will be a long term trend.

British beef farmers will always have a market for their beef because it is acknowledged to be produced to the highest standards. For example Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef is in demand the world over.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:35

It's wonderful that you care so much for the welfare of your chickens. How about starting to care for an entire community made up of wondeful people who deserve a lot more from a company like Sainsburys hmm

sonnyandluca Tue 12-Mar-13 10:19:00

Not sure if this is your area of responsibility but wouldn't it help with reducing food wastage if you went back to selling loose potatoes rather than in huge 1.5KG bags?

I don't want potatoes every night of the week but what choice do we have when you insist on selling by the sack load?

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:19:04


Just popped in to say that I worked with Judith many moons ago in the biscuit department at M & S. She very kindly sent me a Cranks veggie cookbook when I was on mat leave with my son (who's now 16!) which still sits on my book shelf. Anyway just thought I'd wave hello now. Happy memories of shortbread, chocolate teacakes and high fibre digestives.

Hello! Can't believe it's 16 years ago and my twins are now 22! Hope all is well with you and that the Cranks cookbook makes it off the shelf from time to time. thanks

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:20:34


Not sure if this is your area of responsibility but wouldn't it help with reducing food wastage if you went back to selling loose potatoes rather than in huge 1.5KG bags?

I don't want potatoes every night of the week but what choice do we have when you insist on selling by the sack load?

Thank you for the feedback, can you let me know which store you shop in as we do sell loose potatoes as well as a variety of bag sizes. It may well be that your local store doesn't have the whole selection.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:22:44


ooh, I have a question about fromage frais (of all things!)

Sainsburys used to do a kids range of fromage frais which came in pots or pouches, and had no added sugar - so they were brilliant for weaning as well as for older kids, and only £1 for 6 pots, so not a rip off unlike some brands. then they stopped making them some time last year, and now have sugary fromage frais, with bits in it (we tried a jelly one, which was utterly grim) - why did you stop making the sugar free ones?! they were fantastic!

(and if I'm allowed a second question, where did you get the recipe for the butter bean and sour cream dip with chimchurri (?), it is INCREDIBLE, and I am scared you'll stop making it before I figure out the recipe!)

I'm not sure that is the level of question you'll be after, but I am a loyal Sainsburys shopper, and generally love the store, and the fromage frais issue has niggled me for a while. grin


Sorry to hear that we disappointed you when we stopped stocking those fromage frais desserts. It’s useful to know how you feel. We are looking at this range at the moment.

I am glad you love our butter bean dip. I love it too. No plans to stop selling it. I hope you are having fun working out the recipe. It is the Chimichurri topping that makes it for me!


JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:24:09


Hi Judith

Up until about a few years ago Sainbury's used to do quite a wide-range of healthy children's snack options etc.... I haven't really noticed that these are available any more. Why? We used to love them as they appeared to have less sugar, salt and additives in them. Particularly liked the snacks such as the little bags of dried apple.

And a plea for salt-free crisp options too (without the blue sachet of salt) for children.

Also, I am sure you are also aware of this, but parents are constantly searching for nutritious new products particularly for lunch boxes. There are no end of options to buy in Sainsbury's but parents may find that these so-called lunch-box products do not fit the 'healthy eating' criteria imposed by many schools these days!



Yes having healthy children’s snacks and lunch options really helps cut down on the amount of fatty and sugary foods we give our children.

We are still selling our range of healthy children’s snack options. I am sorry you cannot find these in your store. Sainsbury’s does stock YU, Bear and Fruitbowl products so you could look out for these too.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:25:20


I just wanted to say a big thank you for carrying an excellent range of products or people with allergies/intolerances.
We are gluten & dairy free in this house and Sainsburys is definitely our supermarket of choice.

Thank you. It’s always lovely to hear that people are pleased with what we offer.

Mikk Tue 12-Mar-13 10:26:24

Intrigued by the New product development bit of your job description. How do you decide what products to develop and can we suggest some e.g. can you make a toddler pill - everything they need for the day in one easy to swallow sweetie so we can all just relax when they eat nothing but chocolate buttons for a week? Or a zero calorie <yet tasty> chocolate bar (for adults)? Can I have a job at Sainsbury's coming up with new products? how many new products do you come up with in a year?

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:27:13


Will Sainsbury be introducing smart food labels that colour change as the food goes off? Seems a good idea to stop wastage.

We are always looking at ways to help our customers to waste less food. For example we've recently changed all of our freezing guidelines to say 'freeze up until use by date' instead of 'freeze on day of purchase'. We are also in the process of changing all our date-code labels to either 'best before' or 'use by' as we know customers were confused by 'display until' dates.

New technology such as smart labels gives us a real opportunity to move this on again and we're at the moment looking at how we can use these developments in areas such as cooked meats.

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 10:28:18

Justgivemefiveminutes-you asked your question,and despite it being written very arsey you got an answer.why don't you wait for a reply instead of coming back with more snide comments.
If you felt that strongly why didn't you protest against it in the first place or contact sainsburys yourself instead of coming on here with your rude tone.

sonnyandluca Tue 12-Mar-13 10:29:36

It may have changed then since we last shopped there but it was the Urmston branch and the choice of loose potato was a generic 'white' potato or baked.

Maybe being a little picky but we used to have a choice of a few different types.

JudithBatchelar Tue 12-Mar-13 10:31:12

Thank you for spending part of your morning with me - I'll be coming back to the questions I was unable to answer in the hour. I hope my responses were helpful and informative. I've really enjoyed chatting with you all!

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 10:34:28

I'd literally only just moved to the town when the protests were underway hmm

If you think my comments were snidely or rude, frankly I don't care. I care about a community that's suffering and if you'd care to google the subject you'd see that I have a point hmm

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 10:42:19

Maybe you don't care what others think but your whole tone and approach was rude.You may well be in the right with what you are saying,I dont know and I'm not interested to be honest.
How about having the courtesy to acknowledge the person rather than coming back with another snarky post?
You actually get further in life by being civil and not storming in on the defensive,if I was Judith I wouldn't have bothered replying to you.

openerofjars Tue 12-Mar-13 10:59:27

I don't know if I missed the boat here, but can you stock the full Alpro lactofree range in more stores? I can only get the butter in the big Archer Road store in Sheffield and I can't find the ice cream anywhere now. Thanks!

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 11:00:03

Haha. I've got myself a stalker.
Either you are the Marketing Director of Sainsburys or you are an actual mum who'll soon realise Mumsnet isn't the site for you.
As for rude and snide...pot and kettle.
Either way, have yourself a biscuit definitely not a Sainsburys one

crocoldile Tue 12-Mar-13 11:23:52

Lol,a stalker because I called you on your rudeness,oh please!
No I don't work for sainsburys,I don't even shop there!
Thanks for the biscuit btw,very predictable though

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Tue 12-Mar-13 11:45:57

This is where the conversation ends. I refuse to engage with anybody who uses the phrase 'I called you on...'

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