Horsemeat supply chain issue gets beyond a joke – “100%” in Lasagne

The further bad news about dubious meat supply chains across Europe, and sources of horsemeat in many food products found on UK retailers' shelves, is now racing back onto the front pages. That's no doubt making procurement executives prick up their ears again - they know they'll be trotting into their CEO's offices again today to answer questions about their own supplier information and management procedures.

As the BBC reported yesterday:

"The Food Standards Agency said Findus tested 18 of its beef lasagne products and found 11 meals containing between 60% and 100% horsemeat".

So, as firms in the supply chain jockey for position to blame each other, and providers of vegetarian products make hay, evidence of the use of horsemeat is spreading at a gallop.

Some providers may have to look for a whole new market, as they're saddled with potentially huge costs for withdrawing products. And there may be claims from consumers - there are a lot of unhappy chaps around whose burgers weren't what they thought they were!

Until the suppliers can make the situation stable, which must be the main objective for them at the moment, we won't know the long term effect on the industry. But it's odds on that this will bring more focus for many firms on just what suppliers are up to - will we see them introducing more hurdles to the supplier adoption process? Which of course could be an unbridled disaster in terms of the costs of doing business for both parties..

Actually, this is getting beyond a joke.

Some limited contamination might have been excusable, an honest mistake. But if we're getting into the territory of 100% horsemeat, then reputational risk steps up a level. The need to improve supplier assessment, verification, ongoing monitoring and control in the food industry is likely to be shooting up a lot of business agendas at the moment.

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Voices (3)

  1. john h:

    Beyond a joke is about right; the cheese being used in the ‘beef’ lasagne is marscapone

  2. Ellen Leith:

    I don’t know why people aren’t asking more questions about the role of the supermarkets in this? It seems obvious to me that if they are constantly putting pressure on suppliers so that they can achieve the maximum possible profit margins, they are going to be suckers for the cheapest products. And as long as the chain is complicated enough to launder it and make it possible to tick the right boxes – are they really going to take the time to explore further? You’d hope they would – but evidently not. And let’s not even get into pet food – tuna, beef, chicken…? I don’t think so.

  3. Dave Orr:

    “Light touch” and/or self-regulation of naturally profit-driven markets fails again!

    The defining ethos of the post-Thatcherite unfettered view that “the market knows best” era..

    The ideological & deliberate muddling of regulation with bureaucracy used to drive deep cuts in veterinary and food inspection regulation.

    Investment banks run as casinos alongside Retail banks (but then underwritten by taxpayers and the state); energy cartels; expensive & crowded trains; a fragmented water industry that can’t pipe water from places with lots of the stuff to places in short supply (SE); debt-burdened Heathrow airport unable to clear snow effectively as debt repayments exceed operating profit; scandalous PFI debt burdens left un-touched whilst London hospitals & critical care services are in financial crisis…….etc.

    Should I stop reading Private Eye?

    Should I stop eating ostrich and find a deep pit of sand and stick my head in it?

    Why is the population generally so bovine about all this stuff going on (or is that equine)?

    Answers on a postcard from a sunny tax haven somewhere overseas please!

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