Sodexo reacts to horsemeat secrecy claims

SODEXO HAS reacted to claims that it is failing to publicly disclose information relating to the contamination of frozen beef products in its supply chain.


Speaking in the House of Commons last week, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh stated that Sodexo had “refused publicly to name the products [contaminated with horse DNA…] thereby preventing other organisations from know whether their supplies are at risk”.


However, in a statement, the caterer claimed it has “worked closely and complied fully with all Food Standards Agency requirements”. In fact, a spokeswoman claimed the company had gone further than the FSA guidelines.


“When we found horse meat in three frozen beef products we took immediate action.  Far in excess of any guidelines, we removed the entire range of frozen beef products from every location pending the completion of our DNA testing.  We considered this was the only appropriate action in the circumstances,” she added.


Responding to Creagh, environment secretary Owen Paterson also reassured MPs that the correct procedures had been followed.


“I discussed this issue yesterday with the chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, who is completely satisfied that the information required from Sodexo has been supplied. The honourable Lady must understand that there is an investigation going on and in some of these cases it might lead to criminal prosecution. […] the FSA is clear that it must be guarded about what information can be revealed in case the investigations are impinged upon.”


Creagh said the response was “extraordinary” given that “in every other case where supermarkets and other suppliers have found adulterated meat products, their suppliers have been named. How is the public sector supposed to check?”


On February 22nd, Sodexo announced that it had found horsemeat in a beef product and withdrew meat from schools in Gloucestershire, Southampton and Leicestershire and the armed forces. Sodexo said the products will be re-introduced only once the suppliers have met our enhanced supplier protocols and our own DNA testing and investigation is completed”.