Open letter to Tesco

From a “concerned reader” (name and address supplied)

I have serious concerns that this magazine could cause harm to the public if allowed the credibility of a place on the stands in Tesco. It is crucial that Tesco are aware of what they are choosing to sell – you absolutely do need to look into the content of this magazine.

This dangerously misleading publication warns against vaccinations and prescription medicines while advocating unproven and disproven alternative treatments. For example, the current edition – a cancer special – has an article suggesting that homeopathy may be a useful cancer treatment. It also implies that most chemotherapy doesn’t work and can cause harm. Well known doctors and experts have spoken out against the magazine, including Dr Christian Jessen, Dr Margaret McCartney, Dr Ellie Cannon and the Terrence Higgins Trust (a previous edition suggested that Vitamin C could cure HIV). As a result of complaints by customers, Waitrose announced last month that they would no longer be stocking the magazine.

I’ve now had a series of emails from Customer Care at Tesco, none of which answer my questions and all of which appear to have been put together from templates.

I have had the following arguments put forward, none of which are adequate:

1) The suggestion that Tesco do not act as censors or moral guardians
2) The suggestion that Tesco are not responsible for the editorial content of the magazines they sell
3) The suggestion that the WDDTY liability statement is of relevance
4) The suggestion that this is the responsibility of the publisher

While Tesco may not be responsible for the editorial content of the magazines they sell, Tesco certainly are responsible for what they choose to sell. Tesco do act as censors and moral guardians – as several people have pointed out already (their comments were understandably blocked by filters for doing so on Facebook) – Tesco do not stock hardcore pornography and would presumably choose not to stock offensive political propaganda, for example.

What Doctors Don’t Tell You is a self published magazine. They are not prepared to listen to criticism and seem to believe, rather implausibly, that their critics are pawns of the pharmaceutical industry. The whole theme of the magazine is to spread mistrust in doctors and in medical professionals, contradicting the apparent aim of their disclaimer. Furthermore, the disclaimer suggests readers consult a “qualified practitioner” without defining what they mean by this. Many alternative medicine practitioners consider themselves to be qualified (including people involved with and mentioned in WDDTY) . The term is meaningless. It is possible to obtain worthless qualifications from disreputable online colleges.

Since Customer Care have failed to recognise that it this is a corporate responsibility issue, I ask that you take the time to look into this.

Are Tesco happy to be associated with this publication?

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