Baby formula has been pictured behind the counter at a Sainsbury’s store, painting a bleak picture of families facing the cost of living crisis – and shops having to worry about theft.
Buckets of Aptamil formula are on sale for £14 and £15.50, along with cigarettes and alcohol, which parents must ask the counter staff for if they want to buy one.
Such precautions are usually reserved for products with age verification requirements such as alcohol or big ticket items such as perfume and aftershave.
The formula was spotted at a Sainsbury’s Local in Acton, west London.
While it is understood this is not a new measure, one shopper said the image ‘shows how bad it must be for parents… but also how worried the shops are’ as the cost of living crisis bites.
In June, a picture of a formula behind the counter was posted on Twitter, with the uploader writing: ‘This really disturbs me. Baby formula behind the counter to stop people stealing it in local Sainsbury’s.
‘Formula is expensive. Many food banks reject it to ‘stop addiction/encourage breastfeeding’. For many families, the consequence is devastating.’
Aptamil baby formula has been pictured behind the counter at a Sainsbury’s in Acton alongside alcohol and e-cigarettes
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: ‘This is just one of a number of safeguards we have in place for high value items. The products behind the till will vary from store to store.’
The images come just months after safety marks were discovered on Aptamil and Cow&Gate baby formula in other Sainsbury’s branches.
There are fears struggling parents are turning to crime to help feed their little ones amid the cost of living crisis.
The price of essential goods is rising due to rampant inflation, while families have even less to spend in the shops due to skyrocketing energy bills.
The price of baby milk rose by as much as £1 in 2021, according to figures from The Grocer.
Suppliers said the increase was due to pressure on prices for storage and transport as well as raw materials.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said it is one of a number of safeguards in place for ‘high value items’ (Action Sainsbury’s pictured above)
The image also comes after an investigation in July found that Britons have admitted to stealing almost £500 million worth of goods, including baby formula, toiletries and food, this year.
One in three admitted to shoplifting and 63% of them said it was because of the cost of living.
In July this year, it was reported that other Sainsbury’s branches had put security tags – which the store said are not new – on Aptamil and Cow&Gate baby formula to stop people stealing.
Security tags work via a transmitter that emits an alarm when an item is removed from a store and taken by staff when customers pay at checkout.
The image comes just months after it was reported that other Sainsbury’s branches had put safety labels on baby formula. (Acton Sainsbury’s pictured above)
Tags are usually used to prevent the theft of high-value items such as perfume, aftershave and alcohol.
However, the security tags can also sometimes be used to prevent shoplifters from taking regularly swiped items such as cheese, meat and coffee.
Stores in Staplehurst and Maidstone were among those resorting to these baby forum measures.
In March, Aptamil’s Organic 1 First Infant Milk from Birth 800g rose from £12 to £13.50, while its advanced formula of the same weight cost £16 when KentOnline reporters visited Maidstone’s Romney Place store in July.
A dad-of-one shopping in Sainsbury’s told the Mirror: ‘I was shocked to see safety labels on our baby formula.
‘I thought this sort of thing was reserved for big ticket items.
‘It just goes to show how much the cost of living crisis bites when items like this are stolen on a regular basis.’
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said the decision on whether to safety label products varied from store to store.
Sainsbury’s is not the only store to implement strict measures to prevent formula theft.
In fact, a picture from September shows a tub of Cow&Gate follow-on milk at a Tesco in Surrey with a safety label on it.
The image from inside a Tesco store in Surrey last month shows Cow&Gate formula milk priced at £11.35 with a safety label on it
Other items with tags included Strepsils, shaving cream and Bold 2 in 1 washing gel.
In similar scenes in July, the Manchester Evening News reported on three shops in the area which had warning signs wrapped around all formulas.
This included the Tesco Express stores on Market Street and Piccadilly Gardens and the large Tesco Extra store near the Portwood roundabout in Stockport.
They quoted an unnamed shopper as saying: ‘It really is a big confusion. There are plenty of things you’d expect to see tags on and other measures, but baby milk isn’t really one of them. It’s quite sad when you think about it.’
In May, bottles of whiskey were replaced on the shelves of a Tesco store with cardboard cutouts after thieves kept stealing them.
Staff at the supermarket’s giant branch removed the likes of Jack Daniels and replaced them with small cards in plastic boxes.
Shoppers now have to take one of them with a picture of the whiskey they want to buy to the till.
The various bottles of JD range from £14 to £45 each.
It was reported that an employee now stands guard in the booze aisle at the store to watch out for shoplifters.
It is understood that Tesco has security protection on some higher value items, but that this is not a new policy.