Tesco Removes Scottish Flag From Its Berries After English Customers Complain

Strawberries at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London on June 28, 2010. This week, supermarket giant Tesco was criticized after it admitted to removing the Scottish saltire from punnets of Scottish berries. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Tesco, the U.K.'s largest supermarket chain, has removed the Scottish flag from its punnets of berries grown north of the border, reportedly due to complaints from English customers. Berries sold in Scotland are now labeled with the Union flag rather than the Scottish saltire.

Tesco confirmed the change in its packaging policy on Monday after a Scottish national, Eileen Brown accused the company of "casual racism."

"@Tesco used to mark Scottish produce with saltire (our flag). Now you use Union flag. Please say why. Is it #casualracism? #Scotland," Brown tweeted on Monday. "Mostly raspberries and strawberries which I like to know are Scottish. Hope it's not being caused by #Brexit," she added in a tweet later the same day.

The supermarket giant responded, explaining that the Scottish flag had been removed from punnets of berries after customers in England complained that English berries were marked with the Union flag. Brexit was not cited as a reason for the company's decision.

Hi Eileen, over the past year, we received several customer complaints regarding Scottish flags on strawberries in England. 1/5

— Tesco (@Tesco) August 22, 2016

Incredible scenes. Tesco removed the Scottish flag from fruit because of English complaints. pic.twitter.com/nr74VXrYjw

— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) August 22, 2016

The shift in Tesco's packaging policy affects all its Scottish-grown produce including strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and Scottish-grown potatoes.

"To provide consistency for customers, we mark all of our homegrown fresh berries with a Union flag," the supermarket said in an official statement. "The country of origin is also clearly displayed on the pack."

However, some customers have expressed outrage at the new labeling and urged Tesco to reverse its decision.

Are you consistant with your labelling or just anti-Scottish? @cath426 @jacquieb51 pic.twitter.com/yKUh10r7lH

— ann cybernatbot #UsetheMandate (@liz6153) August 23, 2016

@Tesco how pathetic is it you remove the Scottish flag from Scottish Strawberries due to English complaints? That's racism & you allowed it!

— Craig Corbett (@Slizzle21) August 23, 2016

Others advocated going grocery shopping elsewhere.

Hey peeps of Scotland, @sainsburys still sells Scottish strawberries. Ciao @Tesco. pic.twitter.com/LWrOnQfakF

— Mel 🇪🇺 (@meljomur) August 23, 2016

Proud to sell Scottish strawberries everyday but maybe don't mention it to Tesco.# #ShopHogans #ShopLocal pic.twitter.com/1039IjnF27

— Hogan's Fine Food Co (@HogansFoodCo) August 24, 2016

At a press conference on Tuesday, Buzzfeed's Scotland's correspondent asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the removal of the Saltire from Tesco's Scottish-grown produce.

I asked Sturgeon what she thought about saltire being removed from Tesco strawberries at the end of the press conference. I couldn't resist.

— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) August 23, 2016

"Perhaps we should reflect and wonder what the response might be if this story was in reverse and the Union Jack was removed from packaging because of complaints in Scotland. So hopefully in whatever way this happens, common sense will prevail," said Sturgeon.

"Strawberries from Scotland are just the best strawberries, and that's why we should eat them, not because of the flag that happens to be on the packaging," she added.

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