Government step in on food supply chain security

February 12, 2013

The food supply chain industry has been under great scrutiny and increasing pressure in recent weeks, since horsemeat was detected in various own label frozen beef burgers by major retailers. As a result, the UK government is planning to meet industry officials to discuss whether the food supply chain needs to be places under even more scrutiny in order to ensure food security in the UK.

The news quickly spread and the issue soon escalated as horsemeat was again found in Findus branded frozen lasagna just last week, in some of its products in France and Sweden.

Chief executive of Morrisons, Dalton Phillips, explained, “the key issue that need[s] addressing [is] the complexity of the food supply chain.”

He suggested it could be remedied by “going back to basic retail principles.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reported that food minister David Heath is expected to meet food manufacturers and various retailers this week.

“There is going to be a meeting on Wednesday with David Heath and representatives from the UK food industry. They will discuss what is being done – and what more can be done – to ensure the security of the supply chain,” the spokesperson revealed.

The news comes as Environment Secretary Owen Paterson gave a statement on the ongoing horsemeat scandal to Parliament yesterday evening. The scandal, which saw various own label burgers containing horsemeat from retailers including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and The Co-operative Group, kick-started an investigation from The Food Standards Agency.

Mr Paterson told the Commons that it appeared “criminal activity” had been at the heart of the scandal. MPs are due to discuss the issue further after Labour called a second debate to take place this afternoon (Tuesday 12 Feb).

According to the BBC, “Two Northern Ireland Assembly committees are holding a special meeting later on [today] to debate the issue of contaminated meat.

“A consignment of meat at Newry firm Freeza Meats was last week found to contain about 80% horsemeat.

“The horsemeat scandal was sparked last month when Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by a number of UK supermarket chains.

“The crisis has spread all over Europe as details of the convoluted supply chain in the meat industry emerge.”