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Letter – Regular testing would prevent another horse meat scandal

The Grocer

Sir: We supply quality assurance services to many of the world’s leading fmcg companies, purchasing our clients’ products from every country and retail channel they supply to, to send for lab testing. While each client tests their products against different criteria, the aim is always to ensure products are of the highest quality standard.

Unfortunately, our experience shows this to be a practice much more favoured by ‘branded’ consumer goods as it is their reputations on the line. Can you imagine how a branded burger manufacturer would suffer if horse meat were found in its products?

It should be no different for own label, but suppliers are often reluctant to implement the practice of independent sampling from retail channels, seeing only an additional cost at a time when they are being squeezed by retailers to keep costs as low as possible.

Regular independent product sampling involves purchasing, testing and reporting would have highlighted this issue as soon as these products hit the market. While no health risk is involved in this case, it is clearly a breach of ethics as well as manufacturers standards – one that had apparently gone on for years.

We need to stop this practice. The solutions are available. Let’s make them standard.

Kay Staniland, director, Assosia 

Published in The Grocer, 26 January 2013