Price pressures will lead to more food scandals – Browning

Continuing pressure for cheap food will lead to further food scandals, warned the director of the Soil Association this week.

Speaking on a BBC Newsnight special on the horse meat scandal, Helen Browning said: “We have a globalised food industry all about trying to maximise short term profit and a consumer and a retailer putting a lot of pressure on that supply chain for cheap food.”

Browning told Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis that the recession had increased price pressures to new highs. “A lot of people are simply going on the price on the pack. There are only a few people who care enough about the rest of the information on the label – about the provenance, making sure they know where their food is coming from.”

Browning said that to avoid more scandals and contamination incidents in future there needed to be systemic changes to the  food chain. “We need to take short term thinking out of the equation – and start planning for the long term. The major retailers need to get closer to their farmers and processors to make sure they really do know where their food comes from.”

The Soil Association boss said that the loss of many smaller abattoirs had contributed to the current problems. “It means that if there is a problem it’s much more likely to spread quickly – and it’s the price we’ve paid for having a centralised food system.”