FootprintComment: A wake up call for traceability and accountability in the supply chain

THE RUMPUS generated by the ‘horse-burger’ debate is understandable says Amanda Ursell. People have a right to expect to have ingredients in their food, which are listed on the label. When this doesn’t happen, and the ‘extra’ ingredient happens to be something, which in the UK at least, could be described as an emotive food like horsemeat, it’s not surprising that the media grab the story with both hands and run with it with glee.


The most important point is that the ‘offending’ burgers were safe to eat. Public health was not, we are told, put at risk by the presence of up to 29 per cent horse meat in certain burgers.


It’s also worth pointing out that they may well be more nutritious than the original burgers, given that horsemeat tends to be particularly lean and has a good ratio of monounsaturated fats (the ones that are heart-friendly) to saturated fats (those that tend to trigger a rise in blood cholesterol).


But this of course is missing the point. While horsemeat is a delicacy in Japan, is part of normal life in France and would be probably welcomed by open arms by many of us if we found ourselves in a position of starve or eat it, the fact is, it should not, as with any other ingredient, be present in the food chain if we are unaware of its presence.


Supermarkets affected by the horsemeat problem are rightly issuing apologies to their customers and seeking to understand how it ever found its way into their suppliers factories. It makes you realise just how crucial traceability and accountability really are in our food chain.