A major change to meat packaging at Sainsbury’s has been branded “disgusting” and “unappetising” by shoppers.

The switch has drawn complaints from customers who say it has turned mince into “mush” and now resembles “someone’s kidney”.

The supermarket previously packaged mince in a plastic tray covered with film but announced in February it was becoming the first grocer to vacuum pack all beef to save 450 tonnes of plastic a year.

Vicki Cole, from Huddersfield, told the BBC she was offered a refund in Nectar points after she complained the mince took her 40 minutes to cook, meaning it was tougher and chewier than before.

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She said: “They’ve sucked all the air out and squashed it so it plopped out of the packet and into the frying pan in a big rectangular clump.

“As I started breaking it up with the wooden spatula it was staying in big balls that were cooking on the outside but not the inside.

“I get that we need to use less plastic. But unless they find an alternative that’s going to work they’re going to lose customers because I shan’t be buying it from there. They need to listen to the feedback.”

Another Sainsbury’s shopper tweeted that he was “not a fan of the new Sainsbury’s beef mince packaging,” adding: “Feels very medical – like I’ve just bought someone’s kidney to cook at home.”

Other online reviews read: “The new packaging is awful, it turns the mince into mush.

“It’s very hard to cook and smells off, looks very unappetising. Would not recommend.”

Richard Crampton, director of fresh food at Sainsbury’s, said: “We know customers expect us to reduce plastic packaging and we are committed to making bold changes for our customers and the environment.

“This small change makes a big difference, more than halving the plastic used in our beef mince range and also reducing food waste.

“We are always listening to feedback and can see lots of our customers are already getting used to the change.”

Steve Dresser, from retail consultancy Grocery Insight, told the BBC: “It’s fair to say the change has not been well received, at all.”

In February, Sainsbury’s said the vacuum-packed meat would remain fresher as a result of removing all oxygen and take up less space in fridges and freezers despite containing the same amount of mince as before.