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Walkers to use real meat in its smoky bacon and roast chicken crisps for first time as it bids to shake off junk food label
Move to real ingredients has been greeted with horror by vegetariansWalkers tries to re-assure vegetarians that products will still be ethicalChange will now be promoted by presenter Gary Lineker next month
01:59 GMT, 28 February 2013
01:59 GMT, 28 February 2013
Vegetarians have reacted with horror to plans by Britain’s biggest crisp maker to start selling smoky bacon and roast chicken crisps that will contain meat for the first time.
In what may be a surprise to many, neither of the varieties of crisps made by Walkers contain real bacon or real chicken – but instead rely on artificial flavours.
The move to real ingredients is thought to be an attempt to shake off the ‘junk food’ label – but has been greeted with horror by vegetarians who have been tucking into the snacks for years.
Change: Walkers plans to start selling smoky bacon (left) and roast chicken (right) crisps that will contain meat
Earlier this month Walkers – part of international food giant Pepsico – tipped off the Vegetarian Society that within weeks their previously meat-free flavours ‘will now contain extracts of meat.’
The news has sparked controversy among vegetarians who can no longer enjoy their favourite flavour crisps and are urging the company to reconsider.
In an online forum one wrote: ‘Whether this is simply a publicity stunt planned by the marketing department to cause public outcry, or whether Walkers think this change in ingredients will increase their profits, I will certainly be contacting them to let them know how I feel, and urge you to do the same.’
Another also encouraged fellow veggie consumers to revolt, they wrote: ‘The more people that e-mail them, the more likely they will be to reconsider the new ingredients.’
The row has caused Walkers customer services to wade in to try re-assure vegetarians that their products will continue to be ethical.
In a letter to one complainant they said: ‘I am really sorry that you will no longer be able to enjoy Walkers roast chicken and smokey bacon flavoured crisps.
‘I can understand your concerns over this matter however; we are using only free-range chicken and freedom food pork to ensure the highest standard of animal welfare.’
The change will now be promoted by former England footballer and presenter Gary Lineker next month.
In other changes, the firm is to use cheese from Somerset and the salt and vinegar flavour will have real British vinegar.
Flavouring: The change will now be promoted by former England footballer and presenter Gary Lineker next month. He is pictured here in 1998 with model Kelly Brook
Packets of sour cream and chive crisps with sour cream from Dorset have already been slipped onto shelves as part of a trial by the Leicester-based firm.
In 2007, U.S. snack food company Mars was
forced to abandon a move to use animal rennet in its Mars bars bars
after it was bombarded with complaints from vegetarians. Walkers could
not be contacted for comment last night.
'I am really sorry that you will no longer be able to enjoy Walkers roast chicken and smokey bacon flavoured crisps. I can understand your concerns over this matter however; we are using only free-range chicken and freedom food pork to ensure the highest standard of animal welfare'
Letter from Walkers customer services to one complainant
Last year Walkers was slammed by customers who counted as few as five whole crisps in a packet of their newest brand, Walkers Deep Ridged.
Things got so bad that the BBC’s Watchdog programme launched an investigation after receiving a number of complaints about the pitiful amount of crisps in the multipack bags.
Their investigation found a maximum of 13 crisps in bag and a minimum of 11. But other consumers also contacted the show to report that they had seen as few as five crisps in their multipack bags.
Walkers were quick to hit back at the criticism claiming that their deep ridged crisps were more prone to breakage and were protected by being sold in slightly bigger packets – giving the false impression that there were less crisps in them.
But that didn’t stop angry customers taking to twitter to voice their frustration. Nicole Bourcine wrote said: ‘#crispgate I just opened a bag had 6 whole crisps and some bits. Bring back smiths and golden wonder!’