No one likes a smart arse or so they say, but this time the phrase ‘we told you so’ is echoing right around Europe and not just in risk management circles.
Whether it is Tesco, Aldi, Iceland, Birdseye, Findus or any other household brand name, they all share one thing in common – squeezing unwieldy, complex and unaccountable supply chains too hard to sell on price. Furthermore they have then compounded this by failing to ensure compliance with standards and properly auditing and monitoring their supply chains to ensure quality.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. The recent mislabelled horse meat scandal is just the latest debacle!
It was Investment Bankers, City Wiz Kids and the ‘light touch of regulation’ that made us poorer in 2008, and is still to be recovered from by all of us.
Before that, in the 80’s, it was BSC (popularly known as ‘Mad Cow Disease’) caused by infected Beef brought about ‘rendering’ offal and meat and mixing it in feeds for livestock.
Last year it was a Staffordshire Hospital, who failed to meet its duty of care to hundreds who died prematurely, and have since been brought to book through the Francis Enquiry.
Now processed meat products for Burgers, Bolognaise and Lasagnes have at least been mislabelled, and at worst, are downright dangerous having been contaminated with Bute (‘Phenylbutazone’ a substance banned for human consumption).
It really is now wonder, when in some cases there are 475 supply chain steps from farm to table and the ‘horse passport’ intended to provide traceability in horsemeat has 75 separate organisations doing the same thing in an uncoordinated manner.
No surprise either to see the recent reports emerging of the ‘whistle blowers’ who have for years been warning authorities that horse meat was getting into the supply chain and contaminating food for human consumption.
I was always worried about a new regulator appearing with the abbreviation ‘FSA’ (Food Standards Agency) after witnessing the ‘cowboys’ in the government relative ‘FSA’ (Financial Services Authority), wondering what would actually achieve for us?
So whilst not wishing to be a smart arse the lessons really should have been learnt before, and our corporate memory should have ensured the right risk mitigation and organisational structures were put in place: Risk Management – especially in critical service sectors and for supply chains operating in businesses who want to survive and prosper is not an optional extra or grudge purchase only made when your backs against the wall.
Government and businesses (we work with both by the way) must recognise there are not cheap options to this and that they have a duty to customers and consumers of their services and products. It’s time for a paradigm shift throughout the UK (and Europe perhaps), risk management needs to be mainstreamed in all our activities if we are to really dig ourselves out of the hole that has been dug by those that know best!!!
Look at Waitrose, the Co-op or WM Morrison to see how short, simple, quality assured supply chains and standards in the food industry should work.