THE MUCH anticipated interim report on food supply chains, commissioned in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, has been made public after months of research.
The Government-backed review of Britain’s food system has revealed global weaknesses throughout the supply chain, and suggests a specialist food crime unit be set up to tackle food fraud issues.
Professor Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, was asked by the Secretaries of State for DEFRA and Health to carry out the research earlier in 2013.
Speaking about the publication of the initial findings the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said:
“It is appalling that anyone was able to defraud the public by passing off horsemeat as beef. That is why I commissioned an urgent review into the integrity of our food network.
“The UK food industry has robust procedures to ensure they deliver high quality food to consumers and food businesses have a legal duty to uphold the integrity of food they sell. It is rightly highly regarded across the world and we must not let anything undermine this or the confidence of consumers in the integrity of their food.
“We will continue to work closely with the food industry, enforcement agencies and across local and central Government to improve intelligence on food fraud and our response to it.
As well as better policing Professor Elliott’s report also called for industry, government and enforcement agencies to ‘always put the needs of consumers above all other considerations’.
The horsemeat scandal made headlines around the world in January when it was revealed that some food producers, including household brands, were selling products labelled as beef when in fact they contained horsemeat.
This sparked a major investigation into the supply chain practices of meat processing companies across Europe, revealing further mis-labelling of meat and prompting government action to tackle the issues.
Many food companies in both the retail and hospitality sectors also took decisive action in light of the scandal, including opening up their own supply chains to public scrutiny.
A full report will be published in Spring of 2014.