A DEAD rat was found in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables processed at a factory in Bourne.
The rodent was discovered by a customer in the vegetables sold as an own-label brand by supermarket giant Co-op which originated from Pinguin Lutosa’s factory in Tunnel Bank Road.
Thousands of bags of the mixed vegetables, as well as packs of frozen sliced and whole beans have now been removed from supermarket shelves and recalled by Co-op, which has also apologised to the customer from the south west of England.
A spokesman for Co-op says the company has now stopped taking any products processed from Pinguin’s Bourne site, although it will continue to sell vegetables from the firm’s other sites in King’s Lynn and Boston.
But chairman of Pinguin Lutosa UK, Nigel Terry, played down the incident, saying: “Our products come from the fields and occasionally this kind of thing happens.
“There has been no loss of relationship with Co-op and they will continue to buy from us.”
Mr Terry denied Pinguin had paid compensation to Co-op as a result of the incident and said it would have no impact on the company’s future.
A spokesman for the Co-op group said since the discovery, tests had been carried out, which indicated there had been no risk to health from the contaminated product.
But they confirmed that all packs of own-label frozen mixed vegetables and frozen sliced and whole green beans from the Pinguin plant at Bourne had been recalled as a precautionary measure.
The spokesman said: “The quality of the products we sell is of paramount importance to us, and we have apologised to the customer and his family for the distress caused by this incident.
“We regret that this packing plant failed to meet the standards we expect of them, and as a result we have ceased taking any products processed from this site.”
He also apologised to Co-op customers inconvenienced by the product recall, which affects own-label frozen mixed vegetables and own label-frozen sliced green beans with a best before date of up to an including the end of September 2012.
Own-label frozen whole green beans with a best before date up to and including the end of August 2012 are also affected.
Anyone who has these products in their freezer should call Co-op’s customer relations team for a full refund on freephone 0800 0686727.