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Extraordi-neigh-ry Bad News
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 14:12

Earlier this month Irish Food watchdogs raised the alert that traces of horse DNA had been found in burgers, which were being sold through many UK and Irish supermarkets.

It was revealed that burger samples from three production plants, Liffey Meats (Ireland), Silvercrest Foods (Ireland) and Dalepak Hambleton (Yorkshire) who supply Tesco, Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes Stores, all tested positive for traces of equine DNA.

The ABP Food Group immediately suspended production at their sites and supermarkets started recalling and removing burger lines from their shelves. Tesco took out adverts in British newspapers apologising to their customers and resolving to get to the bottom of it, but the damage had been done.

The reputations of the three production plants have without doubt taken a tumble. They are being portrayed across the national and international media as not being committed to the traceability of their ingredients and their quality assurance procedures have been exposed as less than satisfactory. They have damaged consumers' trust in the British and Irish meat industry with experts predicting a significant reduction in the demand for processed beef in the forthcoming months. They have let their supermarket stockists down, and in turn damaged their reputations. Consumer confidence in supermarkets is low with many customers feeling cheated and deceived and calling for improvements on the sourcing and labelling of food. It has been reported that Tesco's shares have fallen by as much as 1.7% knocking £480m off its market value, and a Tesco store in Wales has been the subject of a horse prank - see video.

What this scandal should teach us is that every business with a supply chain is vulnerable to the actions of their suppliers. David Cameron has since warned British retailers that ultimately they are responsible for the safety and standards of their food supply chains. So with this in mind, companies should consider the importance of working with their suppliers to develop resilient supply chains, and the criticality of having a crisis management strategy in place should something go wrong. Yes, it will take time and money but with the unknown cost of lost supply and reputation damage, can you afford not to take action?

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