Retailers are confident measures have been put in place to prevent another horse meat crisis despite scepticism from shoppers and little action by manufacturers.
Tesco, Asda and Waitrose said significant steps had been taken in the last year to improve traceability in the supply chain, a year on from the beef contamination catastrophe which gripped the European food industry.
However, a survey of 2,011 British adults by research firm Populus found 36% of respondents feel nothing has changed since the scandal, while 56% think further scandals similar to horsemeat will happen in the near future.
A separate study by risk management firm Achilles showed 82% of food and drink manufacturers said the horse meat scandal did not affect the way they manage information about their suppliers and 40% have never mapped out their entire supply chain.
The study showed just 24% of food manufacturers said they were ‘very confident’ suppliers in emerging markets would adhere to health and safety rules.
Tesco has introduced a number of measures following a “root and branch” supply chain review. The UK’s largest retailer has tested 4,600 products over the last 11 months and published the results online.
It also now sources 100% of its chicken and beef in Britain and Ireland and has introduced longer two year contracts for some suppliers.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We have put in place a world class DNA testing system and carried out a root and branch review of our supply chain.”
Waitrose managing director Mark Price told Retail Week: “I think Tesco has made the right moves to improve its traceability and everyone has reacted appropriately after reflecting on the issue. Testing has become much easier so it is less likely to happen again. Waitrose were not involved so our processes remain the same.”
Asda said it has introduced unannounced audits, greater levels of species testing and shorter supply chains, including sourcing all its beef from British or Irish farmers.
European retail trade association Eurocommerce president and former Tesco executive Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe said: “After a slightly slow start, I think the industry and the Food Standards Agency have done well.
“But, like all cross border issues, it is complicated and I am glad there have been criminal investigations, for example in France and the Netherlands where the real problem started.
“Interestingly there has been a recent European Parliament report on food fraud which was adopted by MEPs today, calling for new powers and tougher penalties. My own view is that yet more regulation is not the answer. What we need is better enforcement of existing rules and co-ordination between member states.”