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Fray Bentos tins to be changed after customers complain they're too hard to open

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
May 14, 2018

Fray Bentos could put its iconic packaging under the knife as customers continue to complain the tins are near impossible to open.

A Spokesman Said has received more than 60 complaints in the past year - the majority of which have been made in the past 4 months.

Baxters Food Group, which makes the famous Fray Bentos pies, has been forced to look at the issue and consider whether they can 'improve openability'.

An article in The Sun said the move had been mostly prompted by millennials struggling with the tins, but A Spokesman Said’s pie lovers are of all ages.


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“I fear I’m going to cut my fingers off”

Pie lovers have taken to A Spokesman Said to vent their frustrations.

Beverley Makepeace feared she might be severely injured trying to get the tin open.

“My husband loves Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies but I've refused to buy them for fear of cutting my fingers off and buying umpteen tin openers that fail to get into the tin.

“Please, please get into the 21st century and do them with ring pull lids.”

Jan Bowling said she too loved the pies, but three different openers failed to free her meal.

"I give up! Why can you not do these with simple ring pulls? I am over 60 and now give up on my favorite dinner!!

READ MORE: The definitive guide to opening a Fray Bentos pie tin

Rosalind Stewart tried even more openers but still had no luck.

"Have attempted to open your deep filled steak pie with four tin openers, no joy. This is the first time I have had a problem, normally opens with battery tin opener."

Celia Patterson said it took her 20 minutes and four different tin openers to try and get the lid off.

“Unfortunately not a complete success. Could not remove the lid completely, had to bend lid - very dangerous - so I could cook it. Why on earth are the tops too deep for tin openers to open? This has really put me off buying item.”

Susa Stancombe said trying to open the tin ruined the pie.

“The steak pies in a tin are very difficult to open and the paint from the tin goes into the pie. It has put me off buying them.”


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‘Budget tin openers won’t cut it’

A spokesperson for Baxters Food Group said: “Since Baxters Food Group acquired Fray Bentos six years ago, we have worked closely with Crown Packaging (the Fray Bentos pie can manufacturers) to improve the openability of the can without compromising the integrity or quality of the Fray Bentos product.

"Based on consumer feedback the focus has been on improving the tin profile (ridges on the lid).

"This enables the can opener to sit better on the rim, giving it more purchase to cut through the metal.

"We have conducted a number of trials, and while we have managed a slight improvement, we have concluded that the cans require a robust 'cut from the top' opener rather than a 'cut from the side' opener.

"Budget tin openers will not deliver consistent results.


“A ring pull may injure people”

With so many people complaining about difficulty opening the tins, some have suggested changing them to a include a pull tab.

However, Baxters offered up an interesting response to this suggestion.

“Moving to a ring pull lid has been considered, however due to the surface area and force required to lift the lid, this may result in serious injury to the consumer,” the spokesperson said.

"This has been discounted as a potential solution.

"Whilst we continue to review the design of our can, based on consumer feedback we would strongly advise our consumers to use a robust can opener.

"The can opener tested and recommended to use is the Brabantia Essential Line Opener.

"We are in the process of updating this on our packaging. 'We have updated our website to reflect this recommendation.'

Fray Bentos tinned steak and kidney pies first hit supermarket shelves in 1961.

Since then the popular pie range has expanded to include chicken pies, minced beef pies, chilli beef pie and other options.

The pies are named after the city of Fray Bentos in Uruguay, which is famous for its beef.