A builder has hit out angrily at a supermarket chain’s “mean-spirited” response to his call for a donation to a foodbank after he found himself chewing on a large live locust.

Phil Hall made the request to Sainsbury’s just before Christmas after the twitching insect got into his lunchtime sandwich, containing salad bought from the main Darlington store.

Now, Sainsbury’s has finally confirmed that it has sent a donation to Phil’s local foodbank. Initially, they told him it was £25, though the supermarket says it has increased it to £50 after being contacted by D&S Times sister paper The Northern Echo.

“I never wanted any personal compensation, just an apology and a meaningful contribution to a foodbank. But for a business expecting a pre-tax profit of £700m this year, such a small donation is an insult,” said the former police officer.

Phil was on his lunchbreak on a building site at Brompton, North Yorkshire, when he took a bite out of the coronation chicken sandwich he’d made that morning – along with some of the mixed leaves from the salad bag his wife had bought at Sainsbury’s four days earlier and put in the fridge.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

When he felt something “hard and crunchy” in his mouth, he pulled out the locust that was still moving.

“It was massive and made me feel physically sick to think that the entire thing was in my mouth,” said Phil at the time.

The locust was returned to the Darlington store, with Sainsbury’s announcing after an initial investigation that the salad product was made by a manufacturer called G’s and was available in other supermarkets.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman added that the insect would be sent to the company’s Product Quality Team for further examination.

On January 5, Sainsbury’s wrote to Phil saying: “The brand has several quality checks to ensure that foreign bodies such as this do not enter the product, and all quality checks were in place on the day of production.

“The complaint has been fully investigated and briefed out internally and externally to ensure vigilance is increased.”

As a “valued customer” Phil was offered a “goodwill gesture” of £25, to be used either as an e-gift card, or in the form of Nectar points.

He replied to express disappointment that the letter did not include an apology, and to repeat his request for a “meaningful donation” to be made to a foodbank, rather than personal compensation.

Three weeks later, he received a further letter confirming that £25 had been donated to a local foodbank as a resolution to his complaint.

“Again, there was no apology, and I can’t believe that a mega-rich business can be so mean-spirited by making such a derisory donation,” added Phil.

Since then, after The Northern Echo asked for a comment, he has had another letter in which Sainsbury’s express “our sincerest apologies for the distress and inconvenience this may have caused”. The company adds: “We understand the importance of food safety and take incidents like this very seriously.”

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And a Sainsbury’s spokesman has now said: “We have apologised for this unusual experience and made a £50 contribution to the customer’s local foodbank as a gesture of goodwill. This is in addition to our year-round Food Donation Programme in partnership with Neighbourly and our Nourish the Nation Programme, which raised £3.9 million over the festive period alone.”

In the meantime, Phil wrote to the salad manufacturer, G’s, and received an almost immediate response, with an apology – along with a pledge to donate £100 to the same foodbank.

“The way they handled it was in stark contrast to Sainsbury’s, whose management of the whole sorry saga was appalling,” said Phil.