Meat scandal tentacles reach into South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA — WHERE does the food you work all hours to put on the family dinner table come from? Until recently you would have named a retailer and thought nothing more of it.

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However, a food labelling scare in the UK has tentacles that could reach all the way to South Africa and has had domestic retailers scrambling to ensure that what they are telling customers is in the imported packet reflects the reality.

The scare illustrates the complexity of the 21st century global food chain and the difficulty of knowing the origins of the food you feed to your children. While authorities across Europe have been quick to point out that products containing horsemeat pose no health risk, it does raise serious concerns about fraudulent practices in the food trade.

Investigations are under way to ensure that a range of Findus-prepared frozen ready meals, which are imported into SA for Pick n Pay Holdings by Sea Harvest, majority owned by JSE-listed Brimstone Investment Corporation, are not tainted.

Shoprite also confirmed this week that it imports products from UK frozen food chain Iceland, part owned by its biggest shareholder, Christo Wiese.

It does illustrate the small-world nature of the global food chain. JSE-listed investment company Brait last year trumpeted its role in the acquisition of a stake in frozen foods specialists Iceland.
It, along with Dubai-based Landmark Group and Iceland founder Graham Kirkham, bought a 57% stake in the business. Brait, in turn, counts Wiese as its anchor 34% shareholder while he holds 16% of Shoprite, which in turn carries Iceland products.

It insists the range it carries remains untainted and includes no beef products.

The apparently innocuous practice of food imports poses serious challenges to regulators.

The food chain is long and can be difficult to trace as it connects a vast web of financial interests from farmers to buyers to abattoirs, intermediaries, manufacturers, numerous complicated shareholdings, exporters, retailers until finally the finished product ends up in the homes of consumers.

Sea Harvest, for example, has exported fish to Findus in Sweden for the past 13 years and recently began importing its brand of ready meals to this country.

Findus in the UK is at the centre of a scandal in which horsemeat has been substituted for beef in a range of its ready meals. Findus South Africa, however, says it imports only 17 products, only one of which contains meat, from Sweden.

8 Responses to Meat scandal tentacles reach into South Africa

  1. ad2013 February 18, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    good God! horse meat!

  2. jaku February 18, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    Manufacturers are a greedy lot.They want to increase volumes by adding cheap products. Everyone seems to be doing. Even those with dairies add a bit of water to their milk.The idea is to please shareholders especially at a time when the world economy is struggling.Consumer Council of Zimbabwe must inspect in particular all sausage meat produced locally.

  3. S. Mukanganyama February 18, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Very soon, donkey or zebra meat!

    • george bachinche February 18, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Donkey meat has already been found in the UK food chain.

      The lesson is invidual countries should prodce their own.

  4. GweNzvidya February 18, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    What can they say? The truth is that consumers were given owl meat when they requested chicken. Tortoise eggs were also delivered in their plates when they had requested chicken eggs. In my culture, the practice is not merely called CHEATING, but it’s considered WITCHCRAFT. Kuroya chaiko nokuti munhu anogona kufa. Some would say but no one died, and perhaps horse meat is not all that dangerous, the question is if they have the audacity of doing such a callous behavior, what more can we expect from these unbridled capitalists?

  5. Mupfana weBikini February 18, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Chero tisina kufa.Takadya mabhiza kare mufunge. vese vaienda Wenera vakadya mabhiza.

  6. Chinja 4life February 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    When I was growing my sekuru used to say anything can be eaten as long it has enough salt so I think he was right and I am wondering of these surprises. I feel sorry for those whose right we infringed by the retailers that did not come out in open about the horse meat issue. I want to take this opportunity to warn those who are fond of holding those bottled water that they should be careful nekuti oneday muchaudzwa kuti murikunwa mvura yemunaMukuvisi. I have seen kuit maZimbo anoda status yekuti ndevepamusoro nekuti vanomwa bottled water and this will cost you one day.

  7. jomairwa February 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm #


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