Virgin Mary crisps dropped

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SANDWICH shop chain Pret A Manger has withdrawn a new “Virgin Mary” brand of crisps following religious complaints.

The firm, with about 350 shops in the UK, launched the spicy tomato crisps – based on the non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary cocktail – last week.

This prompted complaints, including from Catholic groups, that it was an offensive reference to Jesus’s mother.

A company spokesman said it had noted complainants’ “strength of feeling” and withdrawn the product to avoid 

“It didn’t take many complaints,” he said. “It’s the strength of feeling that’s behind them that’s important.”

He added: “For the sake of a particular flavour of crisps, we don’t want anyone offended. We will be donating the unsold crisps to homeless charities across the country.”

The Reverend Nick Donnelly, deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster and author of Protect the Pope website, was among those who complained to Pret A Manger.

Following the decision to withdraw the crisps, he wrote on the Protect the Pope site: “[Chief executive] Clive Schlee and Pret A Manger deserve our unreserved thanks for listening to our concerns as Catholics and for acting so quickly to remove the brand of crisps.”