871 ANGELA DAY: Lamb 120312. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

London - Supermarket giant Tesco has been accused of lying to shoppers after being caught selling foreign lamb because home-produced meat was “out of season”.

Cumbrian sheep farmer Linda Allan complained when her weekly groceries included New Zealand lamb. And she was outraged when Tesco told her: “As lamb is not in season in the UK at the moment, we have to source our supply from elsewhere.”

Mother-of-four Mrs Allan, who runs a 200-acre upland farm with 1 000 sheep at Killington with her husband Neil, pointed out the British season is at its peak.

She said: “On its website, Tesco says it sources lamb from the north of England from September to December. But what it is doing totally contradicts that. I was shocked. I don’t understand why it is doing it when there is a glut of British lamb on the market. What hope have British farmers got if this is the attitude of our biggest supermarket?”

Farmers’ leaders have accused Tesco boss Philip Clarke of breaking a pledge made during the horsemeat scandal to sell more British meat.

Phil Stocker, leader of the National Sheep Association, has asked for an urgent meeting with the retailer. He said: “For Mrs Allan to be told lamb is out of season is astonishing, and either purposefully misleading or a case of Tesco being completely unaware of reality. It is unacceptable either way.”

He said: “Mr Clarke stated after the horsemeat scandal that Tesco needed to support UK farmers. The recent evidence shows that this is not happening.”

Charles Sercombe, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s livestock board, added: “The market is awash with UK lamb.”

Tesco described the incident as an error and said it supported British farming. In a statement, it added: “We are confident that we source more British lamb than any other UK retailer.”

However, two months ago in an industry survey of British lamb on sale in supermarkets, Tesco came bottom with 67 percent. - The Mail on Sunday