Why UK Supermarkets Are Adding Security Stickers To Some Dairy Products

When customers entered one Tesco over the weekend, they were met with a surprise. Packages of cheese and butter had security stickers with magnetic alarms attached (per Business Insider). 

Security tags and plastic cages tend to be attached to more valuable items. And, in Britain's cost-of-living crisis, cheddar and milk have suddenly become valuable commodities.

Tesco has used such means to safeguard its cheddar before. In 2016, Deadline News relayed the surprise shoppers experienced when they saw security tags on cheeses that only cost £2.50 or $3. "Just been to Tesco and the cheese has security tags on it...must have some devious mice up these parts," one person responded.

But it's no laughing matter. Many believe these measures target minorities. For example, Indy100 reported in September 2021 that Tesco received criticism for placing security tags on Jamaican wine.

However, in this case, Tesco is simply following a larger trend. Last week, Metro reported that British supermarkets across the board were employing extra security for products like Asda's Lurpak spreadable butter, Sainsbury's Aptamil milk, and Aldi's private label cheddar.

People can't afford dairy

These security tags are being placed on dairy items because more people are stealing butter, milk, and cheese these days.

As a spokesperson for Asda told Business Insider when discussing the added security for their butter, "a single store has probably had some of this product stolen recently and has decided to place tags on the rest to ensure they don't also get stolen." In other words, stores are securing items that are commonly shoplifted.

These food items are being stolen because inflation has hit the United Kingdom with a cost-of-living crisis. According to The Grocer, stores are noticing that the escalated cases of shoplifting have targeted not luxury goods but everyday products.

Dr. Sinéad Furey, a food poverty expert at the University of Ulster, told the outlet that this was an indictment of the current measures in place. 

"The return of 'stealing to eat' instead of being able to 'afford to eat' is yet more proof that we need effective policy solutions that put sufficient income in people's hands in a dignified way so that poverty and resorting to crime do not become mainstream means of securing the most basic essentials of living."