The controversial ‘horsemeat scandal’ might be last year’s news but according to recent research, the aftermath is still well and truly in play. Studies commissioned by Hanover Communications and conducted by Populus revealed that 56% of British adults fear similar food related scandals will arise in the future, 47% believe food standards have dropped in recent years while 52% expressed suspicion over lesser known brands.
The Horsemeat Scandal
Hitting its peak in January 2013, the horsemeat scandal saw horse DNA found in frozen beef burgers across Europe. The backlash was immense and resulted in outrage from the UK public who felt cheated, scammed and sickened at the thought of what was concealed in their everyday food.
The Processed Food Disgrace
Following the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal, more and more studies were conducted in regards to food content. Recent sample tests conducted in West Yorkshire revealed that a huge 38% of foods were mislabelled or falsely portrayed. Examples include mozzarella that consisted of only 50% cheese, ‘ham’ made from meat emulsion and beef mince that contained poultry and pork. Several juices were also found to contain additives or significantly more concentrate than the advertised percentage. Once again the public were left repulsed by the findings.
Frozen seafood has also come under heavy suspicion with news reports exposing the common use of water to bulk out weight and increase profit margins. This was seen in several manufacturers who included ice glaze as part of the NET weight. One study even found a particular brand of frozen prawns to consist of over 50% water. These sly tactics leave customers feeling understandably infuriated at the idea that food manufacturers are blatantly ripping people off.
While these various scandals left the food industry suitably embarrassed, there are several measures that can be taken to improve industry credibility, individual business repute and reclaim the support of the public.
Quality control is one such area that would benefit from a significant overhaul. Increased routine sampling, a traceable supply chain and the regular cross checking of content at all levels of the supply chain could have quickly stopped the horsemeat scandal from escalating to the height that it did. Tougher penalties and increased legislation checks for non-compliance would also be extremely beneficial to ensuring manufacturers remain trustworthy.
Individual brands would have a huge amount to gain from effective quality management software solutions such as Qadex that work to intelligently oversee the operations of all food safety, hygiene, labelling, allergen and quality control issues.
While consumers have become increasingly distrustful of food manufacturers, studies have also shown that over half of the British public considers local produce as the epitome of quality. This represents huge opportunities for UK businesses and the food industry as a whole to up their game and win back the confidence of mistrustful buyers.