In a post that appeared on Facebook over the weekend, but which now seems to have disappeared, Walkers crisps confirmed they can no longer guarantee ANY of their crisps will be suitable for vegetarians.
At the end of last month they confirmed they were adding real meat to their crisps, including Smoky Bacon and Chicken, prompting a massive backlash among the UK's 3 million Vegetarian and Vegans, as well as religious groups, via social media.
Walkers said that the decision was taken to give the crisps a more 'authentic' flavour and to source meat from local farms. It decided to promote the change in direction in a new advertising campaign entitled 'A Great Taste of Home', featuring Gary Lineker on a tractor (see image on right). From now on, around 0.12% of a bag of smoky bacon will contain pork.
Writing on Walkers' Facebook wall Clive Nicholson said: "You started your massive ad campaign to inform the general public that you are adding dead animal to your products, the day after a report was published that linked the consumption of processed meat products with premature death. I would like to wish you the very best of luck at this years bad timing awards."
Added Laura Robinson: "Walkers, there is nothing exciting about contributing to the misery and slaughter of animals, the alienation of any of your customers who don't eat meat and the CONTAMINATION of your ENTIRE RANGE due to cross-contamination (something you continue to refuse to guarantee against). This is quite possibly the biggest PR DISASTER of a lifetime."
So far Walkers has refused to to rule out the possibility that their other flavoured crisps may be cross contaminated with meat as they use the same barrels to add the flavour to all the crisps. In 2007 Mars was forced to do a U Turn over the use of animal extracts in its Mars and Snickers bars following a backlash from Vegetarians. It remains to be seen whether Walkers will follow suit.