Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nestlé: Horse Meat Scandal (2013)

Nestle Co. logo
"The scandal over beef products adulterated with horse meat escalated across Continental Europe on Tuesday after Nestlé, one of the world’s best-known food companies, said it was removing pasta meals from store shelves in Italy and Spain." New York Times, February 19, 2013
Nestlé S.A. is a Swiss multinational food and beverage company with headquarters in Switzerland. It is the largest food company in the world measured by revenues. With the scandal of unauthorized horse meat has been found in a beef labeled products in supermarkets in countries including Britain, France, Sweden and Germany, Nestle recalled two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, from store shelves in Italy and Spain. The official press release says: "Our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products made from beef supplied by H.J. Schypke". Company also immediately assured that there are no food safety issues and it had notified the authorities. 
Thus, with the history of previous Nestle scandals, raised serious concerns about consumer safety and unethical business practices. Why Nestle, such serious company, haven't tested products they are selling until horse meat scandal hit? Are they unaware of products they selling? With disappointing first half 2013 revenue report, how harmful this scandal can be for stakeholders? 

Nestle recalled Buitoni Beef Ravioli
First of all, is it unethical to sell a mix of beef and horse meat product as a 100% beef product? I would like to answer this question from different ethical perspectives. From Individualism theory, which states that "everyone has the right to pursue his own interests and should do so, but no one has a right to make other people’s choices about their pursuits for them" (Salazar), Nestle's way of handling things seems right. Society exists only for the sake of its members as individuals, and in this case individuals are Nestle. Interest of Nestle stakeholders is ethically paramount, and Nestle made a profit from mixing beef with horse meat, maybe they also saved money by not performing controlling the quality of their products. However bad publicity can be very harmful and even ruin their reputation which leads to decrease of profits.

From Utilitarianism theory, which is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering, this scandal is unethical as well. This scandal is definitely a bad new for anyone trying to take control of his or her diet, or make ethically based choices when it comes to food. Also horse meat scandal, when even a big companies accused in it, caused customers to think twice about what they are eating.

Principles of Kantianism is acting rationally, respect people, and be motivated by good will and doing what is right. Nestle violated every step of this theory. They acted irrationally, let me explain why. If they were trying to save money by intentionally mixing beef with horse meat, they didn't think about their reputation, cost-benefit analysis hasn't been performed. If it was unintentional and they haven't tested products they selling, they acted irrationally again, moreover, they acted disrespectful and were not motivated by good will. I don't believe they were trying to do what is right, more likely they tried to increase their profits.
Nestle 1st half revenue report chart

Virtue Theory The last theory is virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is a classification within normative ethics that attempts to discover and classify what might be deemed of moral character, and to apply the moral character as a base for one's choices and actions. "The general concept behind Virtue Ethics is that it focuses on what the individual should choose for his/her own personal inward behavior (character) rather than the individual relying solely on the external laws and customs of the person's culture, and if a person's character is good then so ought the person's choices and actions be good. The outcomes under this scandal and this theory is similar to the Kantianism and Utilitarianism. Either way, was it intentional or unintentional, Nestle acted without courage, temperance, honesty and justice.


Castle, Stephen. "Nestlé Removes 2 Products in Horse Meat Scandal." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

"Individualism." N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

"Nestle Withdraws Pasta Meals as Horsemeat Scandal Spreads." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

Salazar, Heather. "Business Ethics." Business Ethics Class. Herman Hall, Springfield. Lecture.

Staff, CNN, and Nic Robertson. "Food Giant Nestle Recalls Products after Horse Meat Discovery." CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

"What Is Nestlé Doing in Response to the Horsemeat Issue?" Http:// N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

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