This horse story looks set to run, with the Food Standards Authority becoming increasingly frustrated at what seems a lack of transparency on behalf of the supermarkets. In turn they, at least in the case of Morrison’s, are not prepared to lay back and take the criticism for the scandal quietly. Turning to social media site Twitter as their platform.
For some background, we contacted James Marks, Managing Consultant at Crimson & Co, a leading end-to-end supply chain consultancy on the role of the supply chain.
“The recent entry of horsemeat into the supply chain of convenience food manufacturers has led to a national debate about the real origin of the food we eat and the responsibility of the retailers that offer it to us. A popular school of thought puts the blame at the door of the retailers, and by association, the consumers, for driving down the price of suppliers and leaving them no option other than to seek less than transparent sources of raw ingredients. Others have laid the blame at criminal gangs operating across Europe who profit from the introduction of cheaper meat into the supply chain.
“Whatever the truth, the debate raises questions about the transparency and quality assurance of the supply chains that deliver these products to our local freezer cabinets and leads me to believe that traceability and the proof of providence is going to be an area of focus and expectation over the coming months and years.
“The current view in the food supply chain is that quality assurance of suppliers is sufficient to guarantee consumer quality but a glance to recent developments in the pharmaceutical industry suggests that more far reaching measures could be introduced. In 2012 the European Commission passed the Falsified Medicines Directives – a key element of this was the legal requirement for all manufacturers to apply European audit standards (MHRA and mutual recognition etc) to the sites of manufacture of all ingredients used in all products sold in Europe; effectively extending manufacturers’ responsibility another step down the supply chain and outside of the European span of control. It also outlined measures to ensure that certain medicines could be authenticated at the point of dispensation – a huge undertaking for manufacturers and pharmacies across Europe over the coming years.
“If similar quality assurance practices were adopted in the food supply chain it would see retailers begin to pay as much attention to the source of the beef in the lasagne from a third party supplier as they would to the beef that they sell in their chilled isles where the name of the farmer is often used as a nod to its providence. This is likely to raise tensions between the price conscious retailers and the suppliers that they have squeezed so hard and add an extra dimension to negotiations. Whether consumers are willing to pay more for providence is less clear and poses the question about the impact that such regulations could have on retailers’ margins.”
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