Waitrose – are you BTO members?

Waitrose is still selling game meat to the public weeks after being told that the health warning it is displaying is inaccurate.  For a leading supermarket which claims high environmental credentials for itself, it is behaving badly.

What Waitrose claims on its website


… and it’s a bit difficult to see how selling game meat with a reasssuring but inaccurate health warning fits that claim – particularly weeks after your error is pointed out to you.

My copy of BTO news came through the post the other day and I see it contains a large article on the ecological impacts of lead ammunition. The three authors, Debbie Pain, Rhys Green and Ruth Cromie, are expert in this field and together have over 70 years’ experience of publishing scientific papers on environmental and health impacts of lead.  They would have been good people for Waitrose to consult about this issue in order to get things right. But Waitrose can just glance at the BTO News article to find out more about what they are selling in their supermarkets.

A bit of googling of Waitrose staff who might be responsible (if that is the right word) for the delay in correcting their error threw up the name John Gregson as the senior agri food manager (what a ghastly title!)(eg see here). That name rang a faint bell and I wonder whether it could be the same John Gregson who was once, 1992-98, editor of Shooting Times (see here) – I think it might be.

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19 Replies to “Waitrose – are you BTO members?”

  1. Don’t Waitrose appeal to the Upper Class of person. The type that likes to Shoot Game birds, and animals for Fun.

    1. I am guessing but I would say that the archetypal Waitrose customer is not a huntin', shootin' and fishin' type though they are likely to be of above-average income. Shooting (or killing them in other ways) animals for fun, it seems to me, is far from being a solely upper class hobby. I am not convinced that always making this into a class issue is the best way to make progress in addressing the environmental issues shooting causes.

      1. Jonathan, thankyou. We have occasionally shopped at Waitrose for many years and I think our thoughts on killing for fun are well known on this site.
        Think Bill needs to check his shoulders for missing bits!

    2. Nah, Waitrose is for people that want to cosplay that lifestyle rather than that lifestyle themselves. They are for the Hyacinth Bucket crowd rather than the actual Huntin' Shootin, And Fishin crowd. That means their customers probably regard a bit of leadshot as proof they've done something to fit the lifestyle rather than something to fire the chef for not getting it all out before cooking. Try hards, the lot of them.

  2. It seems like it might be time to go to a higher level in the organisation...... and to consider letting the customers know.

  3. BTO science is impeccably impartial, hence somebody in Waitrose should be reading this and finally taking action. If the person with the awful job title is who you suspect he has probably got his view of lead ammunition from less than impeccable sources!

  4. I believe that it is high time that another petition to the UK government was started in order to effect ban on the use of lead ammunition in the UK. I will do that in the new year if no one else does. In the meantime, the wording of my submission to the Scottish Parliament in support of my petition, ensuring that it is well worded, correct in law and not in any way libellous must take priority. I think that I already need a solicitor, and perhaps that is my best way forward on this matter.
    Even if a petition reaches 10,000 or even 100,000 signatures, clearly it is not going to change this government's views, but at least it forces them to face up to their reaction to the latest report from the Lead Ammunition Group.
    This states : "In the UK, c. 50-100,000 wildfowl are estimated to die from lead poisoning annually. By applying a similar calculation, 150,000-300,000 birds may suffer sublethal poisoning following shot ingestion and additional birds will have
    embedded lead resulting in 200,000 to more than 400,000 wildfowl estimated to suffer welfare effects to some degree in the UK annually." I assume there is no way that the effect on Waitrose customers could be calculated to be?
    And who knows what the political landscape is going to be in 6 months time after the end of such a petition. I certainly do not.

    1. Don't do it unless you can guarantee getting over the 100k mark, as anything less will be seen as further proof that the UK public no longer care about such matters and it can be quietly ignored. The damage the failed Gamble petition did to the banning driven grouse movement has been bad enough, and continues to get in the way and be thrown in the faces of campaigners. Petitions that do damage to a cause through lack of signatures are worse than no petition at all.

      Speaking of petitions which need signatures, how about instead supporting one to get high powered rifles banned, and the "two mile range" in Eskdalemuir closed down.

      1. Whilst I respect your wish to avoid damage, I don't agree. In that case A Peoples Manifesto For Wildlife has already failed in it's objectives. I realise that the RSPB has not up to now put it's weight behind any petitions which seem to me to be in accord with the RSPB aims. Whilst it was reasonable not to support the call for a total ban on driven grouse shooting, there are many potential petitions which it could and should advise the membership about in case they may wish to support it. When I start the petition, if needed, you can be sure I will again be making my feelings known to the RSPB, and remind them of their proud history. No risk to the RSPB in what I suggest, unlike starting an RSPB judicial review after Mark started his. It could bankrupt the RSPB. What were they thinking? Were they embarrassed into action they did not need to take? An apology that they realised they could not do it, giving reasons, and praise Mark much earlier, that would have been sensible. Piss ups and breweries spring to mind on many of their actions, particularly on what (little) they say to members, but I still strongly support them from inside, make no mistake.
        The petitions you suggest would not in any meaningful way reverse the dramatic decline in insects, plants and animals so evident today. I remember insects thick on my windscreen, plentiful hedgehogs (are there many left?) etc. etc.

  5. I have a friend who eats shot game birds and has severe osteoarthritis of the knee. I wondered if there was a link so 'googled' and found this research in the US.
    Pretty damning.
    But it seems a bit unfair that Waitrose are being pilloried when at least they put some sort of warning on their product. Booths don't - and what about the game-selling restaurants that make no mention of it?

  6. Mark, another fine piece of detective work.
    We are still awaiting a proper response to our email of the 26/11. They told us they were passing our comments on to the relevant team and gave us a case number on the 28th. Just sent a further reminder.

  7. Just two days ago, in my local chip shop, I had a "conversation" with a pillar of the shooting community. He wasn't too pleased with me pointing out the risks of eating lead shot game to the proprietor when he tried to offload shot Pheasants on him.
    In response, he swore blind that lead shot was illegal, and wasn't used by any shooters at all! After he was put right, he indulged in five minutes of "yeah but no but", before boasting to the assembled customers that he also had venison in his fridge, from a "Jackmonk" he'd recently shot.
    I felt quite humbled to be in the presence of such an oracle of all things rural.

    1. Ah yes the near legendary "Jackmonk" akin but not the same as the much more frequent Muntjac very few people know about this animal, unfortunately it only appears to those with much increased blood lead levels!
      I put out an unleaded cock pheasant this morning out in the adjacent field within an hour it had attracted one Buzzard, 2 crows and 13 Ravens. Needless to say it was quickly consumed and I rather doubt they all had full crops.

      1. The Urban Dictionary gives a very *interesting* definition of a Jackmonk, makes you wonder about that shooting fella's personal life.

  8. We have a Pheasant in the slow cooker, should be ready about half seven, having Sweet Potato mash
    with it.

  9. Eek! The phantom disliker has struck again!
    Perhaps he/she might prefer another example of the expertise of local shooters, who actually publicly bragged that one of them had "shot an eagle". On investigation, the victim turned out to be a Guineafowl.
    And nitwits like this are permitted to roam our countryside tooled up!


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