Horsemeat & QA

In light of the recent horsemeat scandal we thought we’d take this time to go over some key points about quality assurance and the importance of proper third parties and inspections.

For those who are just now joining the horsemeat discussion, here’s some quick facts:

  • In late January it was announced that some meat products, labeled as beef, had traces of horse and pig DNA, and were not 100% beef.  The first store to find this was Tesco.  Tesco is a British super grocery store, the third largest in the world, coming in after France’s Carrefour and USA’s Wal*Mart.
  • Recently, the Swiss giant, Nestlé discovered they too had fallen prey to the horsemeat scandal.  Nestlé found it in some of its pasta products.
  • This scandal doesn’t concern safety, it concerns, false labeling.  In an article by the National Geographic, they quote consumers’ ideas about the Nestlé discovery, two observers remarked, “Everyone has the right to choose what to eat and what not [to eat],” noted one reader. Another wrote, “I don’t think people have an issue with horse meat as much as they have an issue with horse meat being served as beef.”
  • Tesco’s reputation has already taken a dip for the worse.  In a comprehensive horsemeat scandal report provided by the Guardian, author, Felicity Lawrence, tells us, why the supply chains are so complex, she says, “Management consultants KPMG estimate there are around 450 points at which the integrity of the chain can break down.”

450 points where the supply chain gets broken down!   That’s a colossal amount of meddling and mixing.  This scandal is particularly relevant to sourcing because products are in constant motion until arrival into buyers’ hands.  And now, the supplier is unreachable because the product has been passed through so many outlets. Who gets blamed?  The retailer, of course.  Tesco and Nestlé are just two out of several other European entities who have some connection to this horsemeat case.  Sales have dropped for Tesco, perhaps they will drop for Nestlé too.  The point is, this could have been avoided if proper inspections and quality assurance were in place before product was delivered to shelf.

With regards to horsemeat being inaccurately labeled as beef in various parts of Europe, it’s surprising that this would happen in an advanced market like the EU.  Since China is still a developing market and doesn’t always incorporate necessary protocol imagine the QC that gets lost.   When sourcing always remember to engage a third party inspection agency.  They can save you money, time, and a reputation!


Heidi Ruhling joined CSIC in 2013.  She is also a client relationship manger with AsiaBridge. She has a BA in Political Science from Radford University.  Heidi can speak conversational Mandarin along with her Native English.  Heidi is based in Shenzhen.

1 Comment

  1. James Cunliffe on March 18, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    When large company’s are buying products all they have in mind is (PROFIT MARGINS) and so to meet low prices in any product they will drive supplier prices down until they have a supplier who can deliver goods to the price they demand.

    Now, when the supplier company realises they can not make a (PROFIT) at the price given to the buyer they work out a % at which they can and so add a none genuine product at that %age which can not be detected by taste or sight as in processed beef products.

    Now all’s well the large company puts the item on the shelf and lets quality control go out the window and congratulates itself on the (PROFIT MARGIN).

    Q- Do they know? or have they got blikers on so thay are not distracted from the computer screen that shows them the (PROFIT MARGIN). In all I can say it is a case of full circle and the large company’s get bitten in the ass when facts are reveeled such as in processed meat products.

    Q Do I believe the large company’s don’t know?,————- NHAAAAAAAAAAA. I am semi educated and a member of that great institute of JOE PUBLIC and when I read or see on TV such as the meat scandal, It’s like someone has switched the light on. What’s next I wonder?.

Leave a Comment