Friday, 8 February 2013

Horses for Main Courses??

After shocking headlines this week over leading supermarkets and other retailers discovering some of their British and Irish burgers were contaminated with horse meat; tests being carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) analysing a range of beef products found traces of both horse and pig DNA in many of the ‘beef’ products. ¬Tesco’s group technical director Tim Smith has been in the news apologising for the distress and pledging to discover how the contamination could have taken place and to prevent it from happening in the future.

In this circumstance it has been commented that there are only two possible reasons for this contamination, from illegality or from gross negligence, neither comforting for the consumer or the retailers. The most shocking factors in this case being the scale and commodity of the items; and how as a consumer we put our faith in larger retailers having specialists that source the products plus in having procedures to ensure product validity and trusting packaging and labelling.

We would like to remind you about the importance of knowing your supply food chain within your business, products such as minced beef for example can end up in a range of meals and indeed as burgers so if you fail to check your suppliers then a potential contamination can occur right across your menu.

Current trends are all on the ‘keep it local’ and ‘buy British’ and many regional producers do supply locally direct to restaurants and food outlets. On a small scale when buying direct from local producers it is easier to keep tabs on your food supply chain. Understandably as some food manufacturers expand to supply a larger demand or when pricing from retailers forces changes in methods or standards of production; and indeed a restaurant chain that brings in large quantities from a select supplier, when price and demand compete then this is where problems in product quality can occur, in this instance the use of imported meat at the UK manufacturing plant.

So no matter what scale your food business runs on – check your suppliers, contact or meet your producers if possible and prove your products...and don’t fall at the last fence!


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