Grocery giants have “bombarded” customers with inaccurate messages overstating the carbon footprint of meat, a trade body has said.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) claimed supermarkets were undermining Britain’s “sustainable food production” and creating “misinformed food choices”.
One culprit it pointed to was Sainsbury’s, which recently encouraged customers to eke out meals containing red meat with lentils.
“Make your next shepherd’s pie half lentil, half lamb for a dish that’s better for you and better for the planet,” the grocer advises.
Waitrose was also came in for criticism, having published in its magazine last month that “pork has a lower carbon footprint than beef or lamb”.
However, the retailer insisted that the sentence had been taken out of context from a “long and balanced article”.
“People are being bombarded with all sorts of messaging about how diets can help combat climate change,” NSA boss Phil Stocker said.
“There is no doubt that the data being used to substantiate these messages is flawed.
“It is completely misleading not to reflect the true picture, we must be considering broader sustainability metrics.”
He added that the “overseas part of the carbon footprint often isn’t taken into account”.
While livestock contributes 14 per cent of all greenhouse gases globally, the NSA claimed this comes to just six per cent in Britain.
Transport has the highest emissions at 27 per cent, followed by energy supply at 21 per cent and business at 17 per cent.
Speaking to the Grocery Gazette last month, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) noted that British producers had a “much lower environmental footprint” than others.
“Agriculture and food can be part of the solution, but it mustn’t be the scapegoat,” Stocker said.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “Our Helping Everyone Eat Better campaign is designed to support a balanced diet, in line with the government’s Eat Well Guide.
“This does not suggest that people should eliminate meat from their diets.”
A Waitrose spokesperson said: “The line being referenced is not part of a marketing campaign but a single sentence in a long and balanced article about pork.
“We also regularly promote other protein sources that we sell.”