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Border checks no answer to horsemeat scandal

[ February 15, 2013   //   ]

Transport and freight operators worried that the current horsemeat in beefburgers furore might mean increased border checks and delays at ports of entry should rest assured, says Laurie King, principal at supply chain consultants, Crimson & Co

Increased border checks would, to coin a phrase, be like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, he told FBJ. Checks would be time consuming and damaging to businesses because of the delays at borders and , he says, “the real issue is how would visual inspection of a carcass or processed food in containers be sufficient to tell horse meat from beef, since any paperwork or labelling could easily be falsified.” DNA testing at laboratories is time consuming so it could only be done at the factory source.

The only sensible option is to regulate at factory source via independent random testing where the regulatory bodies have the power to close down the factory. This is good supply chain practice for checks to be done as far up the Supply Chain as possible – any other option further downstream in the supply chain (for example, increased checks at borders) will be too late and ineffective and like “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

Testing of meat products in Europe will be stepped up in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, after member states approved the launch of an EU-wide DNA testing of beef on 15 February.

Early investigations into the affair revealed the complexity of the modern food supply chain. Press reports said that Netherlands-based Draap Trading had been sentenced in January for passing off horsemeat as halal-slaughtered Dutch beef, having acquired correctly labeled horsemeat from Romania, which was then sold to a French company Spanghero, which then supplied French food manufacturer Comigel.

Meanwhile, the International Road Transport Union, long an advocate of the TIR customs bond system in Europe, said the scandal could have been avoided if TIR had been applied on EU territory.

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