Waitrose has removed tins of coffee from its shelves as the packaging shows images of slavery.

The pictures appear on the sides of the tins sold by Italian coffee company Saquella 1856.

Illustrations show black slaves harvesting beans in Guatemala and in one image a white plantation manager watches a black mother carrying a child.

The images were spotted by Patriic Gayle, 56, in the Bloomsbury branch in London where he complained.

Patriic described his “disbelief” when he first saw the pictures: "A large part of it was disbelief, it was like we had to look at the picture again and again.

“Somebody has designed this and thought it was OK.

“Did anybody stop to think what this picture was of?”

He then contacted Waitrose HQ and a week later the coffee was being taken off the shelves.

A statement from Saquella 1856 said: “We apologise to anyone that was offended by the images.

"As a Fairtrade accredited and EFSIS ethical standard approved business, we were shocked to learn they had been interpreted in this way and the products were removed from sale in December.”

A spokesman for Waitrose said: “We’ve spoken to the supplier who has explained that the images were intended to depict how coffee was historically harvested and traded.

“However, we fully understand how these could be interpreted and removed both products from sale in December until the supplier has had the opportunity to redesign the packaging.”

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