The decision follows the revelation by the Swedish consumer news affairs television program Norra Magasinet that Irish beef was used in the production of baby foods products sold in Sweden, despite a claim carried in Nestle's marketing literature that all meat used in baby foods is sourced in Sweden. The disclosure came about when workers at Nestle's Findus plants in Sweden protested against the claim and went public on Norra Magasinet.
Nestle management responded by withdrawing tons of baby food from shop shelves and issuing a public apology. According to Nestle, Irish beef - which the company asserted was bought from "disease free" and "certified" meat processors in Ireland - had been "mixed" with Swedish beef for the production of canned Findus baby foods.
Swedish consumer organizations made it clear that their primary criticism of Nestle was not because it had used Irish beef, but because the company had falsely claimed it has used "only Swedish" meat ingredients in its baby food products.
"The whole matter is embarrassing for us, and we will do all we can to restore customer confidence in our reputation and overall product," says a senior Nestle spokesman.
Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.