The recent media frenzy regarding the content of processed meat products has intensified questions and concerns about the depth and robustness of the meat industry’s tests and regulations.
The saga began last month when beef produced by an Irish meat supplier was discovered to have unknown quantities of equine DNA. Major supermarket chains in the ROI and UK acted by withdrawing particular products from the ABP Food Group. As a result of its findings, the the Irish Food Safety Authority and British Food Standards Authority have scrutinised facilities supplying the contaminated meat.
The British Meat Processors Association is now bracing itself for negative impacts of the events over the last few weeks. At the beginning of February the Irish department of agriculture investigated Rangeland Foods in the same county as Silvercrest; costing the ABP Food Group a total estimate of €45m (£38m). Public trust in food screening and the reputation of agencies such as the British Meat Processors Association have seriously been affected, and high street butchers in the UK have seen sales increases.
Fraudulence has been forwarded by the meat suppliers, but a general lack of accountability is likely to be the final outcome. Commentators have blamed the unacceptably long supply chain in which processed meat sits. Expectations and risk management controls have failed to be properly implemented.
Food manufacturers, particularly of processed meat, are now under pressure to regain the trust of their consumers as well as regulators. European-wide risk management controls must be tightened so that future disasters are avoided. With cloud solutions such as Xactium Risk Manager being trusted by some of the worlds most regulated industries, it offers a centralised system for managing disparate risk locations. As the Food Standards Agency will no doubt be looking to examine the processes in place that allowed these incidents to occur, an auditable means to demonstrate a complete risk overview across the supply chain will become an imperative going forward.