Tesco has hit back after being criticised by animal rights campaigners for sending waste meat to use to generate electricity.

The supermarket giant has defended the practice which means that the meat is being used to produce enough electricity to power 600 homes a year.

Tesco said that by sending 5,000 tonnes of meat, which is past its sell-buy date, to a recycling plant means that it will not be put in environmentally damaging landfill sites.

But animal rights campaign group Viva has said that many vegetarians will be “horrified” to learn that that their houses are being part-powered by meat.

Says spokesman Justin Kerswell: “Whatever savings are made by turning this meat into energy is more than voided by the huge amount of greenhouse gases generated by the farming and production of the meat in the first place. Tesco should take a long hard look at its wasteful practices.”

Tesco says that it now diverts all of its annual 531,000 tonnes of waste away from landfill, including recycling cardboard boxes into new ones and turning recycled carrier bags into rubbish sacks.