The scandal hit the headlines when beefburgers were found to contain not just beef, but horse meat, which is not acceptable fare in the UK, and pork, which can cause significant upset for those whose religion prevents its consumption.
It is tempting in today’s cash strapped world for companies to seek a ‘good looking deal’ and risk stepping outside of their approved list of suppliers. I’m not saying that Silvercrest – the burger supplier at the heart of this crisis – sourced unscrupulously or in any way endangered consumers, but it did stray from at least one of its key retail customers’ approved list of suppliers in order to secure a cheaper meat supply for its burgers.
Tesco, one of the UK retailers involved in this particular ‘press horror story’, has now removed Silvercrest from its list of suppliers. The retailer states that its trust has been broken, and Silvercrest no longer has Tesco’s business.
Clearly the potential expense of short term costs cuts is long term.
“This has been a very difficult experience for all involved and has led to a significant interruption in business for Silvercrest and its customers. We are relieved that the source of the problem has been identified,” commented Paul Finnerty, group chief executive of Silvercrest’s parent company ABP Food Group, which confirmed that the contamination originated from third party continental supply.
While Mr Finnerty stressed that the company always purchased from approved and licensed EU plants, he took the opportunity to say sorry: “While the company has never knowingly purchased or traded in equine product, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for the impact this issue has caused.”
ABP Food Group, which owns a range of businesses all specialising in the production of meat products, is now working fast and furiously to contain and rectify the damage caused by this purchasing and quality control problem. This has involved ABP making a complete reorganisation of the group, appointing a new management team at its Silvercrest facility, establishing independent auditing of its third party suppliers, and implementing a DNA testing regime over and above legal requirements.
I am sure that ABP Food Group’s quality standards have always been high, but the need for such actions does raise serious doubts about the stringency of its quality control checks in the past and its previous purchasing decisions. Ultimately, the old mantra applies that ‘if something seems to be too good to be true, the chances are it probably is’.
And, now is no time for complacency over quality!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019