Retailer food safety initiative promoted to end absurdities

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hygiene

Retailer food safety initiative promoted to end absurdities
Asda argues against product standards and for retailer scheme

Asda's executive director of legal and external affairs John Longworth claimed that product standards were often nonsense and a potential barrier to free trade.

Although the introduction of international standards promised consumers better consistency, they posed one of the biggest challenges for the industry, Longworth told the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology.

He cited a past European Union (EU) ban on imports of meat and poultry products from south-east Asia because they contained nitrofuran residues from illegal veterinary medicines. He said the level of toxicity in the products was just a fraction of the carcinogen acrylamide, which is produced naturally by cooking beef. "So, what's all that about?" he asked. "There are many examples of this in the EU."

Longworth called for greater cross-border co-operation on standards that governments and consumers could have confidence in and added that the retailer-led Global Food Safety Initiative, although viewed with suspicion by some manufacturers, probably offered the best way forward.

Product quality, reputational risk management and food hygiene would also be major issues for manufacturers, he added.

"I'm not one who thinks food hygiene is not a competitive issue," he said. Good hygiene was all about "capturing people's hearts so that they do the right thing" as well as having the correct processes in place.