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Chris Niccolls

Mystery Meat In European Supermarkets

By February 18, 2013

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PHOTO: All Rights, Microsoft Corporation

Have you seen all the news stories about horsemeat being used instead of beef in Europe? The supermarkets are saying, "How could we have known!" But now that they do know, they say they can sample their products and run a simple DNA test. Hmmm... but they couldn't test for horsemeat before the scandal?

Interestingly, here in New York, there have been stories going on for the last year about Sushi restaurants. Locally, there have been DNA tests on the fish used in Sushi and it turns out that... it's not what you think it is! It's fish, but not the fish that you thought you were buying. Very expensive cuts of fish are often cuts of some other, cheaper, fish. Investigations have shown that the restaurant is almost always completely unaware of the swap. On average, before you see your sushi, it passed through 20 different distributors and re-sellers. Very much like the horse meat story, too many sub-suppliers leads to too many problems.

What's the lesson from this? When you work with an outsourcer you want to address the issue of sub-contracting head on. Talk about it, put it in the contract, but don't go crazy. Your vendor may need to subcontract some part of your contract: occasional temp workers, accounting services, the cleaning lady? You need to find that balance for your outsourcers, so that they know what's off the menu!


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