Horse meat saga: CIO explains how IT can help

By Stuart Sumner
06 Mar 2013 View Comments

It is within IT's power to ensure horse meat can never again contaminate products marketed as "beef". This is the view of Sarah Leslie, CIO of Iglo Foods Group, which operates the Birds Eye brand in the UK.

"With all manufacturing, IT is an enabler for the business, not a differentiator," said Leslie. "It's IT's job to support business processes and the wider supply chain. IT needs to make sure it works well, with the right systems and transactions in place."

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She added that this should include the capacity to trace problems back through the supply chain - which would include an understanding of how contaminants such as horse meat entered a process supposedly exclusively using beef.

"Traceability includes understanding what we've sold to whom, and who has sold what to us," she said.

"All manufacturing companies have that traceability capability. They need to understand where things went wrong in their end-to-end supply chain, and work closely with suppliers to ensure they are clear about what they need to do to fix it," she said.

The scandal has been put down to rising beef prices, and competition among supermarkets to offer the cheapest food. With food manufacturers and suppliers competing to provide cheap meat products, rigorous quality assurance and testing procedures become unsupportable economically.

Many food manufacturers are now introducing DNA testing procedures to their product lines, which could see food prices rise in future.

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