Beefburger supply chain – something fishy going on? Hang on, faulty pun alert…

- January 18, 2013 1:21 PM
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The discovery of horse meat in a rage of own-label “beef” burgers in various UK retail chains has caused a predictable outcry.  And things got serious tonight when a woman who ate some of the product was rushed to hospital. Her condition was described as “stable”.  And if you think horse burgers are bad, wait till you try the quarter pandas….

Yes, the main effect visible to most of us has been hundreds of dreadful (yet somehow funny) horse / food related jokes flying around the Internet. But more seriously, shares in some of the firms have declined, and let’s face it; it’s not great news for horses either.

I have no great desire to eat horse, but we can be strange creatures when it comes to which animals we will and won’t eat. My wife has been known to sample calves brains (which I shy away from) and frog’s legs, but won’t touch rabbit, which I will quite happily sample. My grandfather was a coalminer in the rural Durham village, and shot “vermin” (rabbits, pigeons, even partridge at times) in a local farmer’s fields to help feed the six children. But we’re so divorced now from that reality of our food sources and production.

Anyway, the real procurement points in this are clear.

Yet again, it emphasises the need to consider supply chain rinks, with reputational risk high on many organisations’ agendas. Then there is the whole issue of traceability; knowing where your goods and services come from, and being able to trace sources back though a multi-tier apply chain. The latest news suggests that the problem may come from “beef filler” imported from other countries, which stresses the importance of having good visibility of all the elements of the supply chain, not just the most obvious or largest spend areas.

So that will be occupying the minds of many in the food supply chain over the next days – where did the horse come from? (Don’t say “Newmarket”, please). And how can they make sure something like this doesn’t happen again?

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Comments

  • Final Furlong:

    Why the long face? These burgers are not only low in fat, but full of Shergar.

    While we don’t eat horses here, incredibly, 8,000 of them are slaughtered and chopped up every year in UK abattoirs for consumption in other countries.

  • Toni:

    Reminds me of my law lecture and a law suit in the US where a Fast food chain demonstrated in court that their fish burger did not contain any fish…

    You do have some funny foods in England, mincemeat pies without meat at christmas, why not beef burgers with horse meat?
    I am glad I don’t shop at Tesco’s though…

  • Sam Unkim:

    On a more serious note….
    Wasnt there quite a fuss a few years ago around giving horse I.Ds to keep animals treated with steroids and antibiotics out of the human food chain ?

  • Dave Orr:

    Do we need a Gallop Poll to see how many people would eat horse meat?

    From Matt in the Telegraph:

    “Warhorse – You’ve seen the film now buy the burger”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/?cartoon=9809987&cc=9776658

    And a delightful “My little pony”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/matt/?cartoon=9807089&cc=9776658

  • Procurement can drive prices down – but beware the consequences — Spend Matters UK/Europe:

    [...] commented in a moderately humorous manner last Friday about the horsemeat in burgers scandal. On a more serious note, it really does emphasise the [...]

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