Responding to the statement made by Iceland Food’s Chief Executive Malcolm Walker, that councils, schools and hospitals are to blame for the horsemeat scandal, WLGA Chief Executive Steve Thomas CBE stated:
“Sadly the remarks of Iceland’s Chief Executive are essentially a smokescreen and a very crude attempt at buck passing. Last week the food retailing industry rightly stated its intent to set matters right. Peter Marks the Chief Executive of the Co-operative Supermarket Group gave an unreserved apology and honestly stated that ‘retailers have to take full responsibility for horsemeat scandal’ and must address the ‘breakdown in trust’ with customers. He argued that it is an ethical matter that retailers must face up to their responsibilities, that the product sold in shops is the retailer’s responsibility and that this scandal is a big wake up call for the supermarkets. The law is 100 per cent clear that it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, supplier and retailer to make sure the product they sell us is what they say it is.”
Mr Thomas added:
“This statement by a leading retailer was reinforced by Ms Catherine Brown the Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) who stated ‘It is industry's responsibility to get this right - not the government's - and we consider that a comprehensive testing programme at all points of the supply chain and in all sectors is an essential step in addressing this issue’.
It is the view of local government, particularly through the work undertaken by our Trading Standards professionals, who play a key monitoring role, that there has been a major supply chain failure. That's not the fault of consumers, councils or hospitals. The companies that supply our food need to take responsibility and focus on getting their house in order. The vast majority of retailers, caterers and manufacturers are doing this. Iceland should do the same.”