by Barry Burch Jr.
Recently, the international grocery store chain Aldi, confirmed a horsemeat contamination in some of its processed meat products. Aldi, which has stores throughout the US, received information that some of its products, specifically the frozen beef lasagna and the spaghetti bolognese, contained horsemeat. Aldi proceeded to test the products and the result was 30-100% traces of horsemeat.
Pointing to its French supplier, Comigal, a spokesperson for Aldi stated, “This is completely unacceptable and like other affected companies, we feel angry and let down by our supplier. If the label says beef, our customers expect it to be beef. Suppliers are absolutely clear that they are required to meet our stringent specifications and that we do not tolerate any failure to do so.”
As Aldi’s spokesperson suggested, Aldi is not the first company to report finding horsemeat; stores Tesco and Findus removed Comigal supplied beef products from their shelves as well. In response, Findus also released a statement, “Findus wants to be absolutely explicit that they were not aware of any issue of contamination with horsemeat last year, they were only made aware of a possible August 2012 date through a letter dated 2 February 2013 from the supplier Comigel. By then Findus was already conducting a full supply chain traceability review and had pro-actively initiated DNA testing.”
The Food Standard Agency in the United Kingdom, reported that the quantity of horsemeat found in the products amounted “to either gross negligence or deliberate contamination in the food chain.” In response, The Food and Drink Federation, a group who actively supports the UK food industry, stated that there were only a “small number” of products with high horsemeat content and that it was “unlikely” that negligence would be found.
Whether negligence is found is up to the courts, but asking all companies to step up to the plate and report contamination and provide a healthy product is not—it’s up to the people.