Horsemeat was ‘effing horrendous’: Sainsbury boss

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency

It's very difficult to predict the next food fraud scandal, said Alec Kyriakides
It's very difficult to predict the next food fraud scandal, said Alec Kyriakides
The food industry has “no idea” where the next food fraud scandal will come from, not least because so many resources are being ploughed in to tackling the horsemeat crisis.

That’s the view of Alec Kyriakides, head of quality, safety and supplier performance at Sainsbury.

He told the Assuring the Integrity of the Food Chain conference held at the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in York this week (April 24) that the scandal had become all-consuming for the industry.

Responding to John Barnes, the head of the Food Standards Agency’s local authority audit and liaison division, who had earlier said the crisis had been horrendous, Kyriakides quipped he’d “put an effing in front of horrendous”.

“And we didn’t even have any horsemeat in our products,”​ he added.

That said, Kyriakides insisted all retailers were “in this together” ​at the coalface.

Not on the radar

“Not one person in the ​[retailers] affected wanted horsemeat in their products. All of the retailers’ propositions to their customers is that they shouldn’t have to worry about the safety, quality and labelling of products,”​ he said.

The problem faced by the industry was that the issue of horsemeat simply wasn’t on their radar, he added.

“We have very robust processes where a lot of money and years of expertise have been put in, but this was down to a lack of insight. Should it have been picked up in auditing? The larger the supply chain, the more opportunities there are to put yourself at risk,”​ he added.

Looking ahead at what might pose the next food fraud challenge for the industry, Kyriakides told delegates at the conference organised by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, that no amount of testing or inspections could guarantee that the next problem would be spotted.

“It’s just not feasible,”​ he said, claiming a lot of the success on product testing hinged on technological advances.

Next problem

While there was technology available to detect what firms were looking for when testing products, Kyriakides added: “I wouldn’t half like there to be some ​[systems] to find what I didn’t know I needed to look for.”

“I’d pay a lot of money for that,”​ he said.

The only thing Kyriakides said he could predict was that there would undoubtedly be another food fraud problem, not least because the issue was “nothing new”.

“I have no idea what it will be, but there will be another one – and I don’t say that flippantly,”​ he said.

“So much resource is tied up on this issue that it is very difficult to predict and manage what else might come through – and that applies to the whole industry,”​ he added.

Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture​ Group is staging a one-hour free webinar​ on the lessons to be learnt from the horsemeat crisis at 11am on May 16. More details of this online event – which will include speakers from Mintel, the Food Standards Agency, Leatherhead Food Research and event sponsor business law specialist DWF – are available here​.

Related news

Show more

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast