Asda demands ID for 'killer' teaspoons

An Asda branch refused to sell teaspoons without proof of age. Cock-up? Or health and safety gone mad?

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

A branch of Asda in Halifax, North Yorkshire has stirred up some controversy by asking a woman for proof of age when she tried to buy teaspoons – in case she was thinking of using them to kill someone. Apparently the cashier told the customer (who was only trying to buy a picnic set) that this kind of check had become a necessity because someone had recently been murdered with a teaspoon. And sure enough, the till receipt – obtained by self-appointed nanny-state watchblog Nanny Knows Best – clearly states that ID is required for the purchase of teaspoons. Whether this was a fault of the IT system, the process, or the idiot in charge of it, it’s not the kind of publicity that Asda will enjoy…

The humble teaspoon might seem an unusual murder weapon of choice (‘it was Col. Mustard, in the library, with the teaspoon’); even if you’re restricted to the cutlery drawer, we’d have thought a steak knife was a more obvious killer, for example. So we have no idea why Asda is picking on it specifically – as the Nanny blog points out, a person could, reasonably, be grievously harmed in a fork frenzy, while a frozen leg of lamb could easily be used to bludgeon someone to death. In fact, when you come to think about it, the average supermarket is stockpiled with potentially murderous fare – but the teaspoon would be pretty low down that list.

But it wouldn’t be the first time that Asda has come under fire for seemingly over-zealous health and safety regulations. Earlier this year, it emerged that a litre of the supermarket's own-brand milk bears the warning ‘Contains Milk’. Even the usually nit-picking Food Standards Agency blanched at that one, saying it was not a legal requirement to warn that something contains milk when the product is... well, milk. 

Sadly the potential teaspoon assassin at the centre of the storm has not come forward to speak about the incident personally, and we’ve had no official statement from Asda HQ regarding what shall henceforth be known as Teaspoongate. But one unnamed source at the Halifax store suggested that the ID request was just a bar code error – an IT cock-up, in other words (always a reliable fall-back).

Nonetheless, while stirring your tea today, it may be advisable to avoid making any sudden movements.

In today's bulletin:

RBS loses another £850m as bad debts mount
Carphone Warehouse scales up with cut-price Tiscali deal
FSB issue ASBOs to bully-boy businesses
Asda demands ID for 'killer' teaspoons
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