Logistics and Operations Management
Horsemeat Consumption in Europe
Over the recent years, horse meat has been a major problem in the United Kingdom. One major source originates from Northern America in places like Canada as well as Southern America in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. The European horsemeat problem began when meat testing within Ireland proved that some beef products contained the equine DNA. This menace has spread across the European continent and in the process, entangling many distinguished brands, which result to timely product abandonment and therefore poor customer concerns by the relevant authorities as well as poor government investigations into the continent’s complex food dispensation chains.
Due to the ongoing European horsemeat contamination scandal, a good number of the beef supplies company executives are considering looking at their risks and uncertainties and on a regular basis. The horsemeat contamination in the beef lasagne is one example of the unexpected interference that occurs when the company executives ought to prepare themselves to handle. Economic pressures contribute to a larger percentage of the risks, which contribute to contaminations in the supply chains (Doeg, 2005 166). According to Humane Society International (2012), every year about one hundred thousand tonnes of horsemeat become imported to the European Union states and the origin of this meat is from the above countries. In addition to the large amounts of meat supplied to the European Union nations, about tens of thousands of this meat is slaughtered for human consumptions within the European Union itself. The Humane Society International (2012) has carried out studies over the issue of horsemeat in the European meat consumption market especially in three member states, which include France, Netherlands and Belgium where meat consumption is a normal phenomenon.
Sampling studies carried on beef lasagne in France, Belgium and Netherlands.
Beef Lasagne is an Italian flat dish, which is made by incorporating several ingredients and sauces into several layers and then baking the dish in an oven. This dish is an olden Italian meal, which is very delicious. The ingredients are made from pork and beef mixed with fresh pasta, creamy béchamel and Italian mozzarella. According to a sampling food survey conducted by the European Food Standards Agency over the wide spread of horsemeat in beef products, one of the products found to contain traces of more than one percent pig meat include Apetito Beef Lasagne (FSA, 2013). The Apetito Company in their defence state that they produce majority of beef lasagne just like any other company however, their beef products in most cases, are imported in large chunks or as whole muscles from their approved suppliers. They inspect their meat but do not carry out comprehensive analysis of the Bute found in the imported meat so as to detect traces of harmful substances (FSA, 2013). The sampling done of the beef lasagne was carried out in two phases and the results obtained proved that out of the 224 Apetito Beef Lasagne sampled in phase one, 214 contained more than one percent pig DNA or contain both pig and horse DNA (FSA, 2013). As for the second phase, the Apetito Beef Lasagne tested contained a threshold of more than one percent pig DNA but did not contain any horse DNA above the one percent threshold.
Also, a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2013) proved that there were undeclared traces of horse as well as pork DNA were found in meat products especially lasagne, beef burgers and Bolognaise, which are already readymade meat products that have been contaminated by horse meat as well as pork DNA. The European government and the related meat industries are conducting a large scale and nationwide meat testing to determine the problem. Each and every year, beef lasagne, which contains traces of horsemeat, is being delivered to France, Netherlands and Belgium in large numbers, which are more than ten thousand tones. In most cases, most of the livestock slaughtered are not bred in France, Netherlands and Belgium. According to Humane Society International (2012 1), not all the livestock slaughtered for beef lasagne are raised in these countries however, they are transported across the European Union borders and then slaughtered in the states for meat consumption. Live animals in the past years have been transported across the three nations partly due to the close proximity of slaughterhouse in either country (Humane Society International, 2012). In France, exportation of beef for making lasagne has extended to the neighbouring states of France like Spain as well as Poland (Humane Society International, 2012).
The governments within the European Union and especially in the United Kingdom have begun efforts to ensure the coordinated response towards the establishment and investigations of the menace across Europe. The European Union on its part agreed that the tests for the imported beef products in foreign countries should be tested for the presence of horsemeat and more so throughout the entire meat food chain. The report also indicated that the major people responsible for the distribution and sale of horsemeat are the food retailers and manufacturers as well as the food suppliers who are legally responsible for making sure that the beef products are labelled correctly. The British Food Standards Agency, who are responsible for ensuring food safety, and the Food Authenticity Programme, which develops the required testing methods that check whether the beef lasagne products have been properly labelled or have contaminations, are responsible for the illegal distribution of horsemeat (Humane Society International, 2012).
Processed beef lasagne in Ireland and Spain
Taco Bell, which is an American Based food retail company was involved in the horsemeat scandal and in recent times, has withdrawn the sale of its taco beef product in the European nations and the reason was the fact that some of the sols beef lasagne were found to contain more than ten percent horse DNA (Humane Society International, 2012). These products include beef skewers, made by Brakes catering company, beef lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese, which are ready Birds Eye meals. In Europe, Taco Bell has various outlets in Europe, one in Essex, the other in Manchester and about three in Spain. The companies in recent times said that after testing their beef lasagne, the presence of horsemeat became evident in the products. The Taco Bell Company revealed that some of the beef products, which they bought from their suppliers in Europe contained traces of horsemeat. Immediately the company realized this mistake, they withdrew their sale of beef and also discontinued their purchase of meat products, and later contacted the Food Standards Agency (Humane Society International, 2012).
The presence of low level horse DNA in beef products prompted the Birds Eye to go ahead and remove their readymade beef meals from supermarket shelves based on the fact that they were made from Belgian Companies (Meikle, 2013). The products include the traditional 340g spaghetti Bolognese, the 400g Shepherd’s Pie and the 400g beef lasagne. Further tests that have been conducted on the Birds Eye product, and in particular on the beef lasagne and spaghetti Bolognese, show that these products contain traces of Horse DNA. This has prompted beef manufacturers and traders to introduce a new DNA testing program, which will make sure that no pulverized beef product will be distributed to the retail stores without undergoing thorough screening and DNA testing (Meikle, 2013).
Beef testing in Europe
The local authorities in European countries as well as the Food Standards Agency carry out close to one hundred thousand tests annually, as part of their routine, to detect the numerous food safety issues and fraud issues encompassing the food industry by using the risk based approach system (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2013). The Food Standards Agency requires a more vigorous response from the food industry so as to demonstrate their campaign in fighting the horsemeat scare across Europe. The Food Standards Agency aims at ensuring that every food industry prepares food, sells their products and deserves their product with the quality it has advertised on its cover paper. Food operating businesses are required to carry out authenticity tests on every processed beef products, for example lasagne, beef burgers and meatballs, and then provide the tested results to the Food Standards Agency (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2013). The tests results, which have been submitted to the Food Standards Agency, ought to be published by the specific retail company that was responsible for carrying out the tests. This ensures there is maximum transparency in the food testing and authenticity system for the benefit of the beef product consumers. Additionally, the Food Standards Agency is conducting a nationwide inspection incorporating the various beef products, which are available for consumption to UK consumers. The companies responsible for supplying public institutions like schools and even hospitals are part of the Food Standards Agency sampling programme.
The various countries’ local authorities aim at identifying and understanding the various factors that lead to the presence of meat products, which have not been labelled as ingredients so as to eliminate, explain and correctly label such products. The local authorities have undertaken numerous activities including carrying out surveying in order to come up with relevant information regarding the possible presence of pig DNA or possible traces of horse DNA in the wide range of beef products, which are available to the UK consumers (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2013). According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2013), the survey will take samples from pre-packed beef products at retail stores, which claim the products are beef or either beef combined with other labelled meat species. These include meat balls, burgers, sausages and minced beef. The other samples that will be sampled include frozen beef products, imported beef products from the third world countries and fresh beef products. This survey will aim at selecting a percentage of the beef products, which represent the goods that are available on the consumer market and the samples are taken in such a way that enforcement actions ought to be taken, if necessary, in order to protect the well being of the consumers.
Even though the horse meat scandal has proved to be detrimental especially to the well being of the European citizens, the realization of this vice by the relevant agencies as well as the local authorities has proven successful in the fight against the consumption of such products. In Europe, chilled horsemeat, fresh horsemeat as well as processed horsemeat products are readily available for the consumption of the population. According to the report by the Humane Society International (2012 14), horsemeat is commonly sold in the form of smoked meat slices or can either be incorporated as a cheap convenience ingredient to the meat products rather than selling it as meat steaks with such products including beef lasagne, which is a common delicacy in Europe. The low levels of occasional consumptions that have been reported indicate that horsemeat is a readily available commodity in most European countries. The high levels of horsemeat importations especially from the third world countries is not accounted for and therefore; not reflected in the labelling packages as beef products that come from a reliable country of origin (Humane Society International, 2012 15).
The survey carried out shows that about ninety percent of the companies involved in the study together with the local authorities have been involved in the uncertain economic growth and the impact on supply chains management (Doeg, 2005 169). On a risk management perspective, numerous European beef processing and supply company executives ought to try and understand how their suppliers operate. It is their right to be part of the supply and logistics by carrying out their own independent inspections and analysis of the specific beef product and in so doing, the companies would comply with the standards required by their clients (Doeg, 2005 24). As soon as a company determines that the beef products obtained from the supplier contains traces of horsemeat, then the company ought to introduce a benchmark system, which will be responsible for testing fully all the products bought so as to ensure there is no other trace of pig DNA or horse DNA within the purchased products. In so doing, it would create a system whereby the suppliers and retailers have a disclosure agreement concerning the presence of horse DNA in the food products (Doeg, 2005 25).
Safety is the key factor to consider when managing the movement of beef products from the source to the retail store. However, due to mistrust issues on terms of correct labelling of the beef products, horsemeat contamination has become a major problem in European countries (De Leon, Meacham & Claudio, 2003 68). An example is the Taco Bell food retail chain, where apart from horse DNA being found on their beef products, the supplier on the other hand had agreed to supply only Irish beef since they had Polish meat in their preservation chambers for supply during harsh economic times (Sullivan, Barthorpe & Robbins, 2011 18).
The truth aspect has not entirely been lost on the clients. A UK based Consumer Intelligence company conducted research and suggests that about twenty percent of British grown patrons have confessed to buying of less meat due to the horse-meat scandal (Donald & Waters, 2007 118). About two thirds of the adult population surveyed confessed that they have trust issues with food labels, at the same time, more than sixty percent alleged to having plans of buying meat from their neighbourhood butchers due to the horse-meat contamination (Meyer, 2013). This means that the retailer companies such as Taco Bell ought to become accustomed to the risks involved and act accordingly because the horsemeat contamination might become a menace and if not realized early, then the food processors might continue with their insufficient standards of manufacturing beef products, which turns out to be cost cutting more so to the suppliers of the beef products.
The control of food imports especially from countries, which are outside the European Union, ought to comply with the strict food safety standards and requirements so as to make sure the products are equivalent to the produced foods found in the European nations (Belasco & Horowitz, 2010 71-74). The imported foods become subject to constant food checks especially by the local authorities and health officers at the ports as it helps to ensure that they comply with the regulations (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2013). The other important factor to consider is having one entry point for the imported beef products. These border examination posts ensure that meat products are inspected and the health officers make sure there is no pig or horse DNA in the products (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2013). In case the imported products pose any threat to human consumption, then the present legislation permits the ban of such imports. The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations 2011 uplifts bans against contaminated meat since the products risks human health (De Leon, Meacham & Claudio, 2003 95).
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