This interim report sets out the current weaknesses of supply chain networks in the UK (ahead of the final report to be published in spring 2014), and suggests measures that can be taken to address them.
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 this independent review of Britain’s food system in the light of the recent horsemeat fraud earlier in 2013.
The interim report suggests a systems-based approach to tackling food fraud, recommending a system where:
- industry, government and enforcement agencies always put the needs of consumers above all other considerations; this means giving food safety and crime prevention absolute priority over other objectives
- there is zero tolerance for food fraud, so minor dishonesties are discouraged and the response to major dishonesties is punitive
- there is a shared investment between government and industry in intelligence gathering and sharing, whilst having due regard to the sensitivities of the market
- those involved with audit, inspection and enforcement have access to resilient, sustainable laboratory services that use standardised, validated methodologies
- industry and regulators give weight to audit and assurance regimes, so as to allow credit where it is due; but also try to minimise duplication where possible
- government support for the integrity and assurance of food supply networks is kept specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART)
- there is clear leadership and coordination of investigations and prosecutions; and the public interest is recognised in active enforcement and significant penalties for significant food crimes
- when a serious incident occurs the necessary mechanisms are in place so that regulators and industry can deal with it effectively