If you were watching TV last night – or if you’ve seen a newspaper or any social media today – you will be well aware of the Dispatches programme, highlighting ‘problems’ within Aldi.

Within minutes there was dramatic head shaking and mock shock from industry experts. From the very beginning it felt forced, over rehearsed and fake.

They started by recoiling at staff being MADE to turn up 15 minutes before their shift started. Really? Don’t all employers expect staff to START work when their shift starts? Don’t all employees arrive early, check any handover and ensure that they are ready to work?

Then they looked at online reviews from staff. The few examples given were not great. But do we know if these were genuine staff? Had they been sacked and so had an axe to grind?

Two undercover reporters were sent to stores to work and do some secret filming. ‘Jamie’ was sent to the store in Sterling. He seemed to be going as slow as humanly possible whilst stacking shelves. When he was told to hurry up, he claimed to have been checking stock. This of course was portrayed as “Aldi don’t care about quality” *dramatic eye roll*.

Another journalist was sent to an apparently undisclosed store in the north west of England (it was fairly obvious which one though). The secret footage showed bread being thrown around and cheese being chucked onto shelves. There are stores within close proximity that are entirely different – which makes me believe stores with a known problem were deliberately chosen..

There was more mock shock when discussing targets. The expert acknowledged that all supermarkets have targets but that Aldi’s were tighter. But they didn’t share any details so we were unable to compare.

But for me, the most laughable part was the outrage that there are no best before dates on the fruit and vegetables. Firstly, it’s not a legal requirement to display a BBD. And when I buy from the farmers’ market, there are no dates on the produce. Do you know what I do? I use my eyes and my nose. That’s right, I use my common sense as to when food starts to go off(!) More secret footage showed produce that had gone bad and we were told that this is because of the lack of information. But I’ve been to my local supermarket (one of the ‘big 4’) and seen spoiled vegetables – most recently packs and packs of courgettes that had turned to liquid before their date. Any fresh produce that gets damaged in transit will degrade quicker. Fact.

In summary, this programme felt like a smear campaign paid for by rival supermarkets to discredit the Which Supermarket of the year – a feeling that was reinforced when the presenter closed with the statement that “as Aldi opens more stores, other supermarkets are closing”.

Was this a documentary motivated by fear?

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