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Iceland boss blames councils for horsemeat fiasco

Local authorities and public sector bodies are driving down food quality by using the cheapest possible food contracts for schools and hospitals, according to Iceland boss Malcolm Walker.

The supermarket chain is among those which have had to withdraw products that have tested positive for horse DNA.

Environment secretary Owen Patterson is meeting with representatives from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda today to get an update on the testing results.

On the Andrew Marr show, Walker said: “If we’re going to blame somebody let’s start with local authorities, because there's a whole side to this industry which is invisible – that’s the catering industry. Schools, hospitals – it’s massive business for cheap food and local authorities award contracts based purely on one thing: price.

“Iceland has never sold economy products – we do not sell cheap food. We know where all our food comes from, we follow the supply chain right the way through and it's very short.

“Dodgy cutting houses and backstreet manufacturers have been supplying products to the catering industry and a lot of that is bought by local authorities for schools and hospitals – that's where the problem really lies.”

But Merrick Cockell, chairman of the LGA, responded: “We have a contract with that [food] retailer to provide us with what it says on the wrapper and that is exactly the same with local government providing contracts for school meals or, indeed, the NHS with hospitals.

“Clearly in some cases, relatively few cases, that has not been happening and actually for the boss of Iceland to appear and make that suggestion... well I hope he knows more about what's actually going on in retailing than he clearly does in contracting and local government.”

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Lou Scales   18/02/2013 at 16:04

I thought his comments were disgraceful. I have been invovled with L G contracting for may years. We always do a capability anbd quality assessment before selecting suitable firms to tender. This is in the form of a pretender work. You can then aard on price only. I was not imprssed with the LGA response which failed to make this point

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