The ‘inappropriate’ quip triggered a flurry of angry responses from followers
But the supermarket giant has found itself at the centre of an internet storm after a tweet posted on its Twitter feed informed shoppers yesterday that its staff were off to ‘hit the hay’.
The ill-judged quip triggered a bombardment of angry responses from followers who didn’t find the damaging revelations quite so amusing.
Supermarket bosses were quick to backtrack, desperately apologising to offended clients, saying that the tweet had been ‘scheduled’ before the scandal broke – two days earlier.
But that only stoked the anger further, triggering questions as to why the tweet was not pulled before being sent.
It began at 11pm last night when the team tweeted: ‘It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets’.
Immediately, hundreds of the company’s followers replied, condemning the pun for its inappropriate timing and bad taste.
Jake Mulley wrote: ‘How can you joke about the horse meat scandal abnd tell us you’re hitting the hay? Because it was funny?’
The team was quick to apologise, copying and pasting the same apology to every customer who complained.
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ it tweeted. ‘That tweet was scheduled before we knew of the current situation. We’d never intend to make light of it.’
However, claiming the tweet had been scheduled before the scandal broke, only stoked customers’ fury further.
It is not the first Twitter gaffe the department has made since the horse meat scandal exploded, spawning a flurry of horse-related puns on the social networking site.
One user asked: ‘Is it true you have started stocking RED RUM? And is it like your regular rum?’
Tesco Customer Care was happy to help, responding: ‘I can’t seem to find anything under red rum. Are you able to let me know which store you shop in so i can double check?’
The alert was first raised by Irish food watchdogs earlier this week after horse DNA was found in burgers sold through Tesco, Iceland, Aldi, Lidl and Dunnes in Ireland.
It subsequently emerged that burgers from the same batches were sold in the British outlets of both Tesco and Iceland. Incredibly, the beef content in one Everyday Value burger sold by Tesco was actually 29 per cent horse meat.
More than ten million burgers have now been removed from sale, including more than 100,000 made at the Yorkshire factory of Dalepak.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and the Co-op immediately decided to remove thousands of packs of frozen burgers as a precautionary measure.
David Cameron reacted angrily, condemning Tesco yesterday, saying: ‘People in our country will have been very concerned to read this morning that when they thought they were buying beef burgers they were buying something that had horse meat in it.’
‘This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs,’ he added, calling for an urgent investigation by Britain’s Food Standards Agency.
Labour says comprehensive food tests are needed to let families know how far horse meat contamination has spread into the food supply.
The ABP Food Group, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers and processors, suspended all production at one of its plants in Co Monaghan, Ireland, after tests found contamination in frozen burgers.
But it has since insisted that meat for fast-food giant Burger King was produced and stored separately at the plant.
It said: ‘We would like to reiterate that all Burger King products produced by us are stored separately and manufactured on an independent line.
‘There is no evidence of any contamination of raw material used for the manufacture of any Burger King products.’
The group revealed last night it had stopped work at its Silvercrest Foods plant in Co Monaghan until further notice.
The firm said that, following new results from the Irish Department of Agriculture, it believes the source of the contaminated material is one supplier.
Ten million burgers suspected of containing some levels of horse meat were cleared from several supermarkets’ freezers across Ireland and the UK this week and are expected to be destroyed.
The scandal comes just a week after Chief Executive Philip Clarke said Tesco was “back on form” in Britain after beating analysts’ forecasts for Christmas sales.
Tesco had hailed a successful relaunch of its meat ranges as a contributing factor to its strongest sales growth in three years.
Shares in Britain’s biggest retailer fell as much as 1.7 percent on Wednesday, knocking 480 million pounds off its market value, reacting to news late Tuesday that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) had found horse DNA in beef burger products sold by Tesco in the UK and Ireland.
The FSAI said beef burgers sold at Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland were also discovered to contain horse DNA.
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- Tesco’s horse meat burger woes continue with ‘hit the hay’ Twitter fail (metro.co.uk)
- Horse meat scandal-hit Tesco at centre of Twitter backlash after customer care message which told followers its staff will ‘hit the hay’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Tesco apologises over horse meat in its beef burgers (horsetalk.co.nz)
- Poor Tesco is having a night mare over burger jokes but maybe not furlong (standard.co.uk)
- Tesco tweets ‘red rum’ advice to horse joke request (metro.co.uk)
- UK News: Tesco in horse meat burger apology (walesonline.co.uk)
- Tesco places full-page adverts in national newspapers to apologise for horse meat scandal (independent.co.uk)
- Tesco horse burger night-mare: The best horse jokes on Twitter (mirror.co.uk)
- Horse-meat in Tesco Burgers! (marketingthroughart.wordpress.com)
- Revealed: Dirty Larry, the multi-millionaire behind firm sneaking horsemeat into UK supermarkets (rtfitchauthor.com)