The ‘Horse-Meat’ Scandal

Illegal activity in the Food Supply Chain

Robert Smith, Gerard McElwee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Food supply chain theory and practice generally assumes that the business practices and processes involved are ethical, legal and value adding when this is not always so, as demonstrated by the ongoing 2013 Horsemeat Scandal. Although it is ostensibly a UK based affair it encompasses the meat processing industry across Europe. We thus examine supply chain criminality and highlight ‘scandal scripts’ which amplify underlying issues. Approach: A systematic review of extant literature on the scandal adds to that body of work, updating the existing narrative to include a detailed analysis of ‘convicted ‘industry insiders’, highlighting supply chain issues involved in the frauds. Micro-stories of businessmen involved are presented to enable an empirical exploration of their illegal involvement in the meat trade. Using storied data from accounts of the scandal as contemporary examples, emerging themes and issues are outlined through a mixed methods qualitative approach consisting of ethical covert research, utilising documentary
research strategy underpinned by Narrative Inquiry. Findings: Media coverage perpetuated various myths notably that the fraud was carried out by ‘shadowy’, Eastern European ‘Mafia figures’ exploiting the extended food supply chains. The analysis is aided by the use of media hypothesis. Far from being a mafia inspired fraud the criminal activity was organized in nature and committed by insider businessmen. The findings demonstrate that supply chains are complex and require an understanding of storied business practices including the ethical and illegal. Research implications: From an academic perspective there are implications such as the dearth of academic research and policy-related studies into food fraud possibly because of the difficulty in obtaining data because of access to such enterprises and entrepreneurs
necessitating reliance upon documentary sources and investigative journalism. Practical implications: There are distinct policy implications particularly the need to legislate against international criminal conspiracies and everyday ordinary organized food frauds perpetuated. Lax penalties do little to prevent such crimes which need to be taken more seriously by the authorities, and treated as major crime. In formulating food laws, rules and regulations, greater cognizance should be taken to consider how supply chains in the food industry could be better protected from predatory criminal actions. Originality: This novel qualitative study will enable academics and practitioners to better understand illegal enterprise, food fraud and risk management from both operational and supply chain perspectives and will be useful to investigators by furthering our understanding of entrepreneurial practice and morality in the food industry.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSupply Chain Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Nov 2019

Fingerprint

Scandal
Food supply
Supply chain
Meat
Fraud
Food
Insider
Food industry
Crime
Industry
Business practices
Systematic review
Authority
Business process
Journalism
Mixed methods
Criminality
Morality
Penalty
Qualitative approaches

Cite this

@article{dfc7a48934ab40d299223edf77f6e6da,
title = "The ‘Horse-Meat’ Scandal: Illegal activity in the Food Supply Chain",
abstract = "Purpose: Food supply chain theory and practice generally assumes that the business practices and processes involved are ethical, legal and value adding when this is not always so, as demonstrated by the ongoing 2013 Horsemeat Scandal. Although it is ostensibly a UK based affair it encompasses the meat processing industry across Europe. We thus examine supply chain criminality and highlight ‘scandal scripts’ which amplify underlying issues. Approach: A systematic review of extant literature on the scandal adds to that body of work, updating the existing narrative to include a detailed analysis of ‘convicted ‘industry insiders’, highlighting supply chain issues involved in the frauds. Micro-stories of businessmen involved are presented to enable an empirical exploration of their illegal involvement in the meat trade. Using storied data from accounts of the scandal as contemporary examples, emerging themes and issues are outlined through a mixed methods qualitative approach consisting of ethical covert research, utilising documentaryresearch strategy underpinned by Narrative Inquiry. Findings: Media coverage perpetuated various myths notably that the fraud was carried out by ‘shadowy’, Eastern European ‘Mafia figures’ exploiting the extended food supply chains. The analysis is aided by the use of media hypothesis. Far from being a mafia inspired fraud the criminal activity was organized in nature and committed by insider businessmen. The findings demonstrate that supply chains are complex and require an understanding of storied business practices including the ethical and illegal. Research implications: From an academic perspective there are implications such as the dearth of academic research and policy-related studies into food fraud possibly because of the difficulty in obtaining data because of access to such enterprises and entrepreneursnecessitating reliance upon documentary sources and investigative journalism. Practical implications: There are distinct policy implications particularly the need to legislate against international criminal conspiracies and everyday ordinary organized food frauds perpetuated. Lax penalties do little to prevent such crimes which need to be taken more seriously by the authorities, and treated as major crime. In formulating food laws, rules and regulations, greater cognizance should be taken to consider how supply chains in the food industry could be better protected from predatory criminal actions. Originality: This novel qualitative study will enable academics and practitioners to better understand illegal enterprise, food fraud and risk management from both operational and supply chain perspectives and will be useful to investigators by furthering our understanding of entrepreneurial practice and morality in the food industry.",
keywords = "Ethics, Risk Management, Food fraud, Illegal Food Supply, Illegal Enterprise, Abattoir Owners, Agriculture, Legal matters",
author = "Robert Smith and Gerard McElwee",
year = "2019",
month = "11",
day = "21",
language = "English",
journal = "Supply Chain Management",
issn = "1359-8546",
publisher = "Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.",

}

The ‘Horse-Meat’ Scandal : Illegal activity in the Food Supply Chain. / Smith, Robert; McElwee, Gerard.

In: Supply Chain Management, 21.11.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The ‘Horse-Meat’ Scandal

T2 - Illegal activity in the Food Supply Chain

AU - Smith, Robert

AU - McElwee, Gerard

PY - 2019/11/21

Y1 - 2019/11/21

N2 - Purpose: Food supply chain theory and practice generally assumes that the business practices and processes involved are ethical, legal and value adding when this is not always so, as demonstrated by the ongoing 2013 Horsemeat Scandal. Although it is ostensibly a UK based affair it encompasses the meat processing industry across Europe. We thus examine supply chain criminality and highlight ‘scandal scripts’ which amplify underlying issues. Approach: A systematic review of extant literature on the scandal adds to that body of work, updating the existing narrative to include a detailed analysis of ‘convicted ‘industry insiders’, highlighting supply chain issues involved in the frauds. Micro-stories of businessmen involved are presented to enable an empirical exploration of their illegal involvement in the meat trade. Using storied data from accounts of the scandal as contemporary examples, emerging themes and issues are outlined through a mixed methods qualitative approach consisting of ethical covert research, utilising documentaryresearch strategy underpinned by Narrative Inquiry. Findings: Media coverage perpetuated various myths notably that the fraud was carried out by ‘shadowy’, Eastern European ‘Mafia figures’ exploiting the extended food supply chains. The analysis is aided by the use of media hypothesis. Far from being a mafia inspired fraud the criminal activity was organized in nature and committed by insider businessmen. The findings demonstrate that supply chains are complex and require an understanding of storied business practices including the ethical and illegal. Research implications: From an academic perspective there are implications such as the dearth of academic research and policy-related studies into food fraud possibly because of the difficulty in obtaining data because of access to such enterprises and entrepreneursnecessitating reliance upon documentary sources and investigative journalism. Practical implications: There are distinct policy implications particularly the need to legislate against international criminal conspiracies and everyday ordinary organized food frauds perpetuated. Lax penalties do little to prevent such crimes which need to be taken more seriously by the authorities, and treated as major crime. In formulating food laws, rules and regulations, greater cognizance should be taken to consider how supply chains in the food industry could be better protected from predatory criminal actions. Originality: This novel qualitative study will enable academics and practitioners to better understand illegal enterprise, food fraud and risk management from both operational and supply chain perspectives and will be useful to investigators by furthering our understanding of entrepreneurial practice and morality in the food industry.

AB - Purpose: Food supply chain theory and practice generally assumes that the business practices and processes involved are ethical, legal and value adding when this is not always so, as demonstrated by the ongoing 2013 Horsemeat Scandal. Although it is ostensibly a UK based affair it encompasses the meat processing industry across Europe. We thus examine supply chain criminality and highlight ‘scandal scripts’ which amplify underlying issues. Approach: A systematic review of extant literature on the scandal adds to that body of work, updating the existing narrative to include a detailed analysis of ‘convicted ‘industry insiders’, highlighting supply chain issues involved in the frauds. Micro-stories of businessmen involved are presented to enable an empirical exploration of their illegal involvement in the meat trade. Using storied data from accounts of the scandal as contemporary examples, emerging themes and issues are outlined through a mixed methods qualitative approach consisting of ethical covert research, utilising documentaryresearch strategy underpinned by Narrative Inquiry. Findings: Media coverage perpetuated various myths notably that the fraud was carried out by ‘shadowy’, Eastern European ‘Mafia figures’ exploiting the extended food supply chains. The analysis is aided by the use of media hypothesis. Far from being a mafia inspired fraud the criminal activity was organized in nature and committed by insider businessmen. The findings demonstrate that supply chains are complex and require an understanding of storied business practices including the ethical and illegal. Research implications: From an academic perspective there are implications such as the dearth of academic research and policy-related studies into food fraud possibly because of the difficulty in obtaining data because of access to such enterprises and entrepreneursnecessitating reliance upon documentary sources and investigative journalism. Practical implications: There are distinct policy implications particularly the need to legislate against international criminal conspiracies and everyday ordinary organized food frauds perpetuated. Lax penalties do little to prevent such crimes which need to be taken more seriously by the authorities, and treated as major crime. In formulating food laws, rules and regulations, greater cognizance should be taken to consider how supply chains in the food industry could be better protected from predatory criminal actions. Originality: This novel qualitative study will enable academics and practitioners to better understand illegal enterprise, food fraud and risk management from both operational and supply chain perspectives and will be useful to investigators by furthering our understanding of entrepreneurial practice and morality in the food industry.

KW - Ethics

KW - Risk Management

KW - Food fraud

KW - Illegal Food Supply

KW - Illegal Enterprise

KW - Abattoir Owners

KW - Agriculture

KW - Legal matters

M3 - Article

JO - Supply Chain Management

JF - Supply Chain Management

SN - 1359-8546

ER -