Radiographers warn over Tesco Clubcard offer

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The Independent Online

Tesco's Clubcard members are in danger of exposing themselves to too much radiation if they use the points they collect to undergo CT scans, an influential medical society warned yesterday.

The Society of Radiographers is concerned that Tesco customers, who can redeem their Clubcard loyalty points for a CT scan offered by the grocery group's partner Lifescan, run the risk of unwittingly damaging their health. The society said that it was "inappropriate" for the supermarket chain to offer the scans and that the radiation risk is not made clear to customers.

"We are not challenging the legality of what Tesco is doing, but it is not clear to us that the inherent risk of radiation is properly being explained to customers. Furthermore, there is no evidence that CT scans help with early diagnosis," said Richard Evans, the society's chief executive.

A spokesperson for Tesco, which advertises the scan by asking, "Isn't it time YOU had an MOT?" on its website, said: "We listen carefully to customers when selecting new reward partners so that we include the products and services they feel will benefit them and their families most. As part of our health and fitness reward offers, customers over the age of 40 can exchange Clubcard vouchers towards a Lifescan health check."

Lifescan, the company that offers the service to Clubcard members, accused the society of naivety and of not understanding the scientific risk of a CT scan. "The total exposure to radiation from a scan would be something in the order of 10 millisieverts, and that's exactly the same as you would get from just living in Cornwall for 12 months," said John Giles, the group's medical director.

"There's no evidence of any harmful effect from that kind of exposure, otherwise I suppose we'd have to have health warnings up on the signs driving into Cornwall."

Mr Evans argued that there is no safe level of radiation and that Lifescan's comments about Cornwall were "regrettable".

Tesco says that it has no plans to withdraw the Lifescan offer.