Horsemeat webinar: how to protect your food business

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Leatherhead food research Food manufacture group Food

Learning the lessons of the horsemeat crisis is the subject of a free one-hour webinar to take place on Thursday May 16. See the end of this article to book your free place
Learning the lessons of the horsemeat crisis is the subject of a free one-hour webinar to take place on Thursday May 16. See the end of this article to book your free place
Food safety watchdog the Foods Standards Agency (FSA), Leatherhead Food Research, market intelligence specialist Mintel and business law firm DWF are supporting the Food Manufacture Group’s free one-hour webinar Horsemeat: learning the lessons of an avoidable crisis.

The webinar – which will take place at 11am on Thursday May 16 – will draw together lessons from the crisis that has cost millions of pounds and done untold damage to the reputations of many in the UK food industry.

The aim will be to arm food and drink businesses with the information they need to improve the integrity of their supply chains and to chart the impact of the crisis on shoppers’ buying habits.

While arguably posing little direct risk to food safety, the crisis has raised important questions about the integrity of food supply chains and their vulnerability to fraudulent contamination.

Earlier this month, European Commission confirmed that tests costing £2.15M had revealed horse DNA in 5% of meat products​ tested at random across the EU’s 27 Member States.

Banned veterinary drug

The banned veterinary drug phenylbutazone, or bute, was found in 0.5% of horsemeat tested.

In the UK, the supermarket chain Asda recalled all its budget range of corned beef after traces of bute, which is not allowed to enter the human food chain, on April 9.

Speaking at the start of the crisis in January, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh referred to bute as “a known carcinogen”.

But key webinar speaker Andrew Rhodes, FSA director of operations, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this month: “What we have found in this positive test result is a very, very low level of phenylbutazone – four parts per billion, which is only just above the level of detection, so it is a very low reading.”

The FSA boss went on to reassure consumers about the low risk to human health from eating the product. “It is extremely rare that people have an adverse reaction to phenylbutazone”.

Meanwhile, Rhodes will explain what key regulatory lessons have been learnt from the crisis and what systems will be put in place to help avoid a similar food contamination crisis.

Crisis management

Professor Tony Hines, head of food security and crisis management at Leatherhead Food Research, will put the horsemeat contamination in perspective with lessons from previous food contamination scandals and recommend how food businesses can guard the integrity of their supply chains.

Kiti Soininen, head of Mintel’s UK food and drink research team, will analyse how the horsemeat crisis has affected shoppers’ buying habits and what lessons can be learned from previous foodscares.

Hilary Ross, partner and head of the food group with business law firm and event sponsor DWF, will advise food and drink businesses on the legal framework surrounding the meat contamination crisis.

Find more details about the online event and book your place here​.

The Food Manufacture​ Group is also staging a one-day food safety conference at the National Motorcycle Museum on Thursday October 17. More details about the event – ‘Learning the food safety lessons from horsegate’​ – which will be chaired by Professor Colin Dennis, former director general Campden BRI, are available here​.

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