Coles trials security tags on meat in latest crackdown: 'This is depressing'

Packets of $8 beef steak were found adorned with individual security tags at one Melbourne supermarket as Coles launches a new anti-theft trial.

Australians have reacted with unease as supermarkets continue to find ways to try and crackdown on theft, which has been on the rise thanks to rising the cost of living pressures. There has been a number of notable in store security changes at Coles recently but the latest addition has many shoppers admitting they have now hit their "limit".

It comes as shoppers were surprised to find "physical security tags" attached to packets of a $8 beef steak at a Melbourne store overnight.

Coles meat on shelf pictured with individual security tags.
Shoppers were surprised the see the measure adorning the packets of $8 steak. Source: Reddit

Yahoo understands the tags are part of a new trial across 10 stores in Victoria currently being conducted by the supermarket, but many Aussies reacting online confessed they felt the increased surveillance and antitheft measures – such as the recently rolled out security gates – were becoming "depressing" and negatively impacting their grocery shopping experience.

Others expressed concern the security tags would further slow down the checkout process, particularly at self-serve check outs as staff will be required to remove them.

Onslaught of Aussie frustration towards security tag on meat

There has been mounting frustration towards Coles and Woolworths with both companies accused of price gouging during the rising cost of living — with the ACCC currently conducting a 12-month enquiry into the claim. Simultaneously, supermarkets have also rolled out extensive security measures to crack down on theft, with a few disgruntled shoppers even turning to subtle in store vandalism to show their dissatisfaction.

The Melbourne shopper holds up the steak meat taking a picture of the security tags at Coles.
Coles says it is trialling the tags at 10 stores in Victoria. Source: Reddit

Amid the wave of anti-theft measures, consumers are voicing their frustrations and have began to compare the supermarket to a prison.

"Love walking into my grocery like a prison too. Hope they bring in pat downs next month," one shopper wrote in response to the steak security tag, while another called shopping at either Coles or Woolworths a "hostile experience".

"Security tags on food, no matter what sort, is depressing," a third said.

Coles explains security tags on steaks

Coles confirmed to Yahoo News that shoppers in select stores will start to find security tags on individual items as it trials the new measure.

"The reddit post showing tags on some meat products is a very small trial in just 10 Victorian stores. We are always reassessing and trying new security measures," the spokesperson said.

"It's important to note that the majority of customers do the right thing in store. Measures like this are for the ones who don't," they added.

As food inflation continued to bite last year, a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo rising theft was an industry-wide problem. "We have observed an increase in theft which is an issue affecting all retailers across Australia and internationally, and one that we will continue to address," they said in July.

When announcing its $1.1b profit last year, Coles claimed about 20 per cent stock losses from shoplifting and food waste. The Australian Retail Association says shoplifting amounts to a $9 billion problem for the wider industry.

"The safety of our team members and customers is our top priority, and we have a range of security measures in place to reduce theft from our stores including security personnel and surveillance technologies," a Coles spokesperson said on Wednesday.

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