Disposable barbecues withdrawn from supermarket shelves over wildfire risk

Lidl becomes latest retailer to halt sales of the barbecues as Met Office issues highest fire warning

All big supermarkets have now stopped selling disposable barbecues in the light of the risk of wildfires across the UK.

Morrisons, Asda and Lidl on Friday joined Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in temporarily removing the product from sale in all stores as an official drought was declared across large parts of south and east England and the Midlands.

Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi previously announced they would no longer stock disposable barbecues because of the potential detrimental impact they have on the environment and wildlife. The Co-op and Morrisons on Friday moved to a national ban after earlier halting sales close to national parks. Online grocery specialist Ocado has also stopped sales. Iceland stopped short of a total ban, saying it has removed barbecues from sale in high risk areas such as national parks and is reviewing the situation.

Tesco changed its policy from a local ban near areas of outstanding beauty, such as the New Forest, to a UK-wide pause late on Thursday in light of the heatwave and dry conditions. It is understood to be planning to restock disposable barbecues once weather conditions make it safe to do so.

Sainsbury’s said earlier on Thursday it was removing the items from sale as a “precautionary measure” during the hot dry weather and would monitor the situation and listen to feedback from its shoppers.

The retailers acted after the Met Office issued its highest warning under its fire severity index.

A petition on the UK government website calling for a national ban has received more than 20,000 signatures. The Labour party is calling for a complete ban on their sale, while Andy Roe, London’s fire commissioner, said “urgent action” must be taken to outlaw the sale of disposable barbecues because of the “untold damage” they cause.

The barbecues are a fire risk, especially when used on dry ground. Parts of England have had their driest weather for 111 years, creating tinderbox conditions that have led to a string of crop and grass fires.

Disposable barbecues were cited as the cause of several fires, including a serious blaze in Lickey Hills, near Birmingham. There was also a large fire at Morden Hall park in south London caused by an abandoned disposable barbecue that left a large area of the park scorched.

B&Q said it had phased out disposable barbecues last year.

Contributor

Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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