Tesco criticised for refusing free parking to mother because she bought formula baby milk

'I do not, however, need to be ‘guilt-tripped’ by a Tesco employee who has absolutely no knowledge of my circumstances'

Saturday 12 November 2016 18:35
The regulation is followed by many supermarkets (file photo)
The regulation is followed by many supermarkets (file photo)

A mother has criticised staff at Tesco after they apparently refused to give her a free parking voucher because she bought formula baby milk.

Laura Leeks, from Essex, went to the Tesco in Braintree town centre to purchase milk for her five-month-old son who cannot tolerate breast milk after undergoing life-saving heart surgery.

Ms Leeks claimed she was denied free parking – givn as part of a promotion – because she bought only the formula during her visit.

She said staff at the supermarket claimed they were legally not allowed to promote formula milk over breast feeding because of EU regulations.

The parking vouchers are classed as a promotion and the law prohibits promotions on products such as formula baby milk and tobacco, according to The Guardian.

Ms Leeks wrote on Facebook that she felt “guilt-tripped”.

“I am delighted that you as a company support breast feeding. However I cannot accept that your policies lead to your staff shaming women who for whatever reason are using baby formula. I also cannot accept the comparison of formula feeding with the harmful effects of smoking,” she said.

“I remain sad that I could not solely breast feed [my child]. However, I am reassured that, due to the nutritious formula, he is happy, healthy and growing well.

“I do not, however, need to be ‘guilt-tripped’ by a Tesco employee who has absolutely no knowledge of my circumstances,” Ms Leek added.

A spokesperson for Tesco told the Guardian: “We always strive to provide the best possible service for our customers and we understand Ms Leeks’ request.

"However, due to UK law we cannot promote baby formula in any way, including the offering of a parking voucher.”

The Department of Health blamed an EU regulation.

“These rules are currently in place because of EU law. But our Great Repeal Bill means that when we leave the EU, laws such as these will be debated and controlled by the UK parliament," it added.

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